Designing Inclusivity: Reconstructing the Meaning of the Seven Pointed Star Symbol in the Jordanian Flag through Design Thinking
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This thesis is an attempt to explore the Jordanian community of today with its multi-ethnic fusion and its social practices that often appear rooted in the past. It is an examination of what possible series of symbols could be formed from a collective view of the diverse ethnicity in Jordan and that could be culturally relevant to the seven-pointed star of the Jordanian flag. This has been an investigation structured around Design Thinking processes using a mixture of qualitative methods integrated with a social science methodology. The qualitative data collection methods involved close contact between the research participants and the author in such a way that emergent topics could be explored. Accordingly, the first major practical contribution of the research provided a series of prototypes that established ‘terminologies’ that were discovered, evaluated and reflected upon through design processes and supporting documentation. This was followed by a testing stage designed to show the cultural diversity and acceptability of both the symbols/ and the final artefacts. Three main tests were conducted in 2016: 1. Semi-structured interviews with participants selected at random from seven different ethnic groups according to country of origin. 2. Public exhibitions in Jordan and Plymouth with audiences from diverse research backgrounds (e.g. users or consumers of designs). 3. A workshop with Jordanian designers (students and practitioners). The methodology adopted during each test included the sharing of the author’s work and personal experiences and invited feedback that could be used to validate and build on the Research Question. The stories and discourse produced a wide array of social patterns that are referred to as ‘findings’. The results emphasised a relationship between social communal values and the historic stories related by the participants. It was hoped that by having the opportunity to involve users throughout the process and by discussing open-ended questions, that the most objective valuations possible would be achieved. However, a deficiency occurred during the process of testing prototypes, which had the effect of decreasing the reliability of the test. It also emerged that correlating all the data proved more difficult to produce answers as accurately and consistently as possible. Subsequently the author is proposing a number of follow-on design research methodologies, investigating and exploring further the significant values embodied in the Jordanian flag. Namely: Faith in one God Humanity Humility National spirit Virtue Social justice Aspiration Despite these difficulties, however, this research-based activity proved to be an invaluable achievement in terms of personal practice and recorded data as a result of testing the open ended-questions and demonstrated the ability to produce design documentation with its own unique features.
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