DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Blaasvaer, Linda (1); Gulden, Tore (2)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, Norway; 2: The Oslo Metropolitan University
Section: Engaging the Public
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.75
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


This article describes a cybernetic, systems analysis of double communication inherent in the relationship between clients and social workers. The study is oriented in the context of the Norwegian Labour and Welfare administration (NAV) to understand how to design welfare services built on a mutual trustworthy relationship and communication between the government via the social worker, client. The goal with this analysis is to develop a design method for master students studying systemic design. The method will be discussed about the implications and complexity inherent in large systems such as large organizations. Specifically, the method aims to understand design for public services with the objective to reveal and implement feedback and meta feedback functioning to create a sustainable and trustworthy system of communication between client and social worker. The method will be generic and applicable for any other discipline to understand other social, communication system. Social workers and clients behave and adjust in accordance with the systems that enable the encounters between them. Both ends of the communication know that one must behave in a specific way to achieve wanted outcomes. Clients adjust to a monetary and social systems in which shape their behavior, and the social worker being on the other side behaves in line with the administrational system, hierarchy, laws, power structures, etc. The main idea with the social welfare system is to arrange for the citizens to receive various types of benefits or support during a troublesome period. However, the communication systems may work in both the clients and the social welfare systems disfavor, this because the relationship represents different perspectives and goals. This type of communication dynamics is what Gregory Bateson termed double bind (2000/1972). Double bind is in short, a communication functioning that conveys contradicting messages. Double bind is not a countable measure; however, it describes a phenomenon destructive for communication and functioning. It may not be possible to prevent, but we can be aware of the phenomenon when designing services for the clients. The upcoming research planned is to disclose and describe various situations and kinds of functioning of double bind with and at NAV involving phenomenon, and tensions, within the encounters between clients and social workers. These will be mapped up for further analysis and make the content for the research that contribute to the field of design education and practice, and the change of communication in welfare services. References: Ashby, W. R. An introduction to cybernetics: J. Wiley. Bateson, G. (2000/1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Bateson, M.C. (2005) The Double Bind: Pathology and Creativity. Cybernetics and Human Knowing. Vol. 12, nos. 1-2, pp. 11-21. Braaen, H. et. al. (2018). User Insight – a report from Norwegian citizens, 2017 – 2018. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV). Meadows D.H. and Wright D. Thinking in Systems: A Primer, 2009 (Earthscan, London)

Keywords: method development, systemic design, cybernetic, dobbel bind, public sector


Please sign in to your account

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties. Privacy Policy.