Understanding Critical Design Tensions With Progression Through Historical Practices

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This article engages with the claimed limitation that critical design fails to address the problems it condemns, such as capitalism, and suggests looking at the different ways critical design practices have related to production in the past. Three examples from different historical moments are discussed through the theoretical lens of tension with progression. The discussion brings to light four areas of reflection which concern the way we understand progression, time, socio-technical contexts, and use. These—all suggesting that critical design is frictional yet can also be progressional—are presented as perspectives relevant to better position critical design in relation to production and to assess its potential contributions.