Could alternative econo-legal futures be made more possible and probable through prefigurative design?

The above presentation was delivered at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting 2021 as part of a panel hosted by the Collaborative Research Network on Utopian Legalities, Prefigurative Politics, and Radical Governance (CRN 50).

It is part of a wider project on the intersections between law and design, the main outcome of which is a book about Doing sociolegal research in design mode.

In that book I set out what I, drawing on the phrasing of Ezio Manzini, see as the three most distinctive and relevant characteristics of designerly ways:

  • Mindsets that are simultaneously practical, critical and imaginative
  • Processes that emphasise experimentation
  • Strategies that emphasise making things visible and/or tangible

I argue that the combined effect of these three forces is to generate structure-yet free, enabling ecosystems in which meaningful change is more possible and probable.

In the presentation, and the paper that underpins it, I explore how

  • a particular design practice (prefigurative design)
  • might make particular type of change (alternative econo-legal futures)
  • more possible and probable,
  • in a particular context (the divided island of Cyprus)

With thanks to all those in Cyprus who have given me their time, to Socrates Stratis for permision to use images, and to the SLSA and the Leverhulme Trust for funding.

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