Early research in service design started in the early 90 connecting the field to other design disciplines and settling the space for the emergence of it’s own school of thought. In 2008 and 2009 the direction of the academic publications changed from justifying service design to practicing research on service design itself.
There are two main approaches to service design: To widen the scope of the field, and to challenge and explore the basic assumptions in service design and the methods inherited from other disciplines. I will argue how feminist standpoint thinking can also bring relevant contributions in terms of challenging the basic assumptions both in service design and in the methods inherited from the scientific practice, especially for those taking user experience design as the main focus of their research.
Feminist Standpoint Thinking is a version to be used and reflect upon Feminist Standpoint theory and epistemology. Standpoint theory emerged in 1970 and 1980 as a feminist critical theory about the relation between the production of knowledge and the practices of power from the standpoint of women and the women voices. Moreover, as Sandra Harding, one of its major contributors already pointed out, standpoint methodologies have been widely adopted across the social sciences. Standpoint thinking claims that knowledge is socially situated and always based on experiences, and map how a social and political disadvantage can be turned into an epistemological, scientific and political advantage. Therefore, the logic of feminist standpoint methodologies has its foundation in enabling underprivileged groups to articulate the legitimacy of its own knowledge and needs against the research practices that serves powerful groups. There are a number of practices and claims that it is worth considering and appropriating, especially from intersectional feminist research narratives. The intersection between standpoint thinking and decolonial theory is here to remind us that modernization is not identical to westernization, neither only disseminated from the west to other societies. Modernity and innovation will always take on distinctive local features in its multiple regional appearances. Having a critical perspective on race, gender, ablebodieness and socio-economic background and well as on the methods of science, pursuing ecological validity, and considering methodological pluralism seems those practices appropriate to face the current challenges of service design research and broaden the presence and range of people and perspectives into the design processes.
From a Foucaultian power/knowledge perspective, the interface as the design of a set of processes may lead to both user oppression and user empowerment as a result of a series of design choices and the nature of the relation and the interactions mediated by the interface. Feminist narratives advise that the researcher must be aware of issues surrounding power in research and also must recognize that there is an authority and power in the written representation of research, as listed in the seven key principles of doing qualitative research based upon feminist models of knowing proposed by Stanley and Wise (1993). In that sense, it has to be taken under consideration also the idea of the interface as a safe space in terms of the relation between researcher and participant, especially while keeping a user-centred approach to research.
In terms of interaction design, the possibility of the interface not being felt safe by the users endanger at least one of the three main principles of interaction design: pleasurability. Online harassment and hate speech are specially targeted to women and underprivileged communities, at it has become a problem for sites such as Twitter, Reedit and Wikipedia. Besides the negative impact in term of pleasurability -and also possibly in terms of business- I hypothesize that in the context of transactive memory management, hate speech may also disturb and/or disrupt the exploration experience of those targeted -in this case, women and underprivileged communities- , causing as well a disruption in their knowledge discovery experience. The internet is an enabler of transactive memory management where information is stored outside our brain in digital memory systems. Therefore it is relevant to raise awareness and to propose solutions that may lead to user empowerment by design in the context of digital interactions.