2–5 February 2021


Long Paper

Dignity as a principle of service design: a study of four perspectives on dignity and their applications to pedagogy


Presenting Author(s): Miso Kim
04 February 2021

Please be aware that multiple presentations will take place during this session commencing at 10:30AM AEDT and share the same zoom link. Check how presentations are clustered in the program spreadsheet when adding the calendar.

Dignity is a fundamental principle of today’s democratic society as well as human-centred design. Dignity is particularly important in the design of services. Services directly influence those who go through the service system, and many services seek to change their customers as a core outcome. Additionally, service co-production often starts with tense situations in which strangers meet for the first time and this can sometimes lead to serious conflict. A humanistic principle, such as dignity, is needed in this process and in the outcome of a service. Designers can better integrate and support dignity by treating it as a principle, method, quality or pedagogy of service design. This paper explores four perspectives on dignity: as a universal right, as interpersonal care, as merit and as autonomy. I introduce the key philosophical interpretations, social backgrounds, and historical shifts in the concept of dignity with design examples. Dignity as a universal and intrinsic value of human nature is likely the dominant meaning of dignity in today’s democratic society. Dignity also concerns a humanistic treatment that is exchanged with another individual based on social emotions. Historically, however, people were seen to have more dignity if they proved to be better suited for a higher rank. In contrast, modern philosophers have argued/argue that the basis of dignity is autonomy, that is, the capacity for decision and action. I then present service design projects from a class, in which student teams utilize each of the four perspectives as a guiding principle for redesigning a flight experience.

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ServDes.2020. (2021, February 4). Day 3 Feb 4th 2021 LP morning session [Conference video recording]. Retrieved from https://servdes2020.org/events

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Miso Kim
Miso Kim
Northeastern University

Dr. Miso Kim is an assistant professor of Experience Design in the Department of Arts + Design at Northeastern University. She holds a PhD in Design, an MDes in Interaction Design, and an MDes in Communication Planning and Information Design from the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. She also holds a BS in Architecture from Sungkyunkwan University in Korea.