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Designing for Ambivalence: A designer’s research into the role of smartphones for mothers and young children

Yurman, Paulina. 2019. Designing for Ambivalence: A designer’s research into the role of smartphones for mothers and young children. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This practice-based research explores the role of smartphones for mothers
of pre-school children who are their primary carers. For many women, the first few
years of motherhood demand the complex negotiation of maternal and non-maternal
identities. A period loaded with idealisations of motherhood and childhood, this is
often a time of isolation in which mothers use and adapt surrounding resources
to respond to multiple demands. In this context, the smartphone is at times used
for connecting to work or to non-domestic realms, and at others is given to young
children to keep quiet or entertained. Transforming from tool into toy, the smartphone
becomes object of competition for parental attention, but equally turns the mother
into a rival since its use is often shared. Smartphones represent work, autonomy
or distraction for the mother, but also play and pacification for the child, offering
multiple and competing discourses that this research explores.

During the trajectory of this research, I have developed a series of experimental
and critical design proposals that give form to behaviours brought by smartphones
in the childrearing task. The development of these proposals formed the first stage
of exploration in this research. A second stage took place in the encounters between
people and the designs. At times producing both attraction and rejection, the design
proposals helped me engage in conversation with others about practices, often
private, that are ridden with ambivalence and guilt.

Informed by critical design, psychoanalytic and feminist perspectives, this
research is an example of the possibilities for design to expose unintended uses
of technology, to challenge conventional user portrayals by depicting mothers as
complex users and to explore potentials for change.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00026603

Keywords:

Design, motherhood, smartphones, ambivalence, research artefacts, critical design, feminist design research, research through design

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Design

Date:

30 June 2019

Item ID:

26603

Date Deposited:

11 Jul 2019 13:57

Last Modified:

11 Jul 2019 14:05

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26603

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