Redesigning Marxism

Hall, Sean. 2001. 'Redesigning Marxism'. In: Designing in Context: Proceedings of Design Thinking Research Symposium 5. Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands 01/06/2001. [Conference or Workshop Item]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

This paper, presented at the 'Designing in Context' conference in Delft, was peer reviewed and accepted for the conference, and for a publication of selected papers. It was also reviewed by an international panel of leading designers and design academics. The delegates were from leading institutions in the USA, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Australia, Israel and Hong Kong, with specialisms in architecture, linguistics, psychology, philosophy, design, etc. The purpose of the conference was to engage critically with designing in theory and practice from the point of view of these diverse disciplines. Designing does not fit easily into the traditional Marxist paradigm, thus undermining its ability to explain all forms of materiality and ideology. This paper demonstrates that whilst designing appears to be part of the ideological superstructure of society, it also appears to be part of the material forces and economic relations of production (indeed it seems to 'shift' from economic base to ideological superstructure and back again). In particular, Hall shows how designing influences the forces of production through the way in which it employs materials, instruments and tools, and affects the relations of production through its role in planning, technology, logistics, structures, and systems; but also the ideological conditions of society by altering the way we view cultural values. The bifurcation of designing into technical and relation part (as a component of the forces and relations of production) and its expressive part (as an element of the superstructure of society) clarifies the radical and transformational potential of design itself.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Additional Information:

Included in the CDRom ‘Designing in Context', DUP, 2001, published by the conference organisers.


design; theory; Marxism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



1 June 2001Published

Event Location:

Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands

Date range:


Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Mar 2008 15:02

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2017 14:20


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)