Your monstera is turning yellow?? Who cares!?
Your gelato is dripping on your pants?? Who cares!?
Your job is pushing you to burnout?? Who cares!?

Oh, you care? Great—so do we! :)

By Design or By Disaster is the annually held conference of the MA Eco-Social Design at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. Join us April 7-8, 2022 in beautiful Bolzano.

The current system is an exploitation-fuelled high speed train with no intention of stopping. Radical Care stands on the tracks, and hops on board, to slow this train down. For this reason, DoD 2022 will be an open space to start conversations across diverse disciplines about what Radical Care really means and what it can look like today. Through workshops, talks, and collaborative activities, we would like to connect people and their visions of an alternative society driven by care, and not by profit. Everyone is welcome!

Interested in contributing to the conference? Look here!

Take a deeper dive into RADICAL CARE

inspiring practices, a real utopia, the transformation towards it, and what’s design got to do with it.

Practices of care respond to the question “What is needed?” – opposed to markets. They answer the question: “How can I get the most out of it for me?” This necessarily goes along with exclusion, exploitation, growth compulsion and leads to the escalating multiple crises. Care as  a motivation is intrinsic (opposed to financial reward, the anxiety of not surviving in competition, the compulsion to follow social norms, and their very definition of success, fear of repressions and other extrinsic motivations). If care was the dominant motivator for what individuals and collectives are doing, we would live in a better society. Without an ever increasing amount of questionable commodities and related overproduction on one side, and poverty on the other; without “bullshit jobs” as David Graeber called jobs, which might be well paid, but the persons doing them (secretly) know that they are not contributing to anything good at all. 

While when people are getting active out of motivations “between pleasure and necessity” as Brigitte Kratzwald put it, we would have debates about which things really need to be produced and about what each of us really want to do. Then we need to discuss how to reach a good equilibrium, which addresses the needs, desires, capacities and motivations of all – opposed to a society where individuals and collectives debate about how to maximise economic growth and competitiveness, and the only equilibrium that matters is the so-called “economic equilibrium” between offer and demand, quantity and price. Friederike Habermann calls this “structural hate”. The logics of care and commons in very concrete ways bring us closer to the utopia Karl Marx formulated: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” (never realised under any regime which declared to be “communist”).

Care acknowledges that “Interdependency […] is a condition.” as María Puig de la Bellacasa says. It is a material reality. Ignoring it unleashed the exploitation of people and nature to the current degree, which is causing unbelievable suffering and the destruction of the basis of good life on earth. Changing this is not only a matter of attitude and practices, but of power, too. “… all forms of care are shot through with relations of power. […]. How might we turn our power towards caring for our broken world?” Joan Tronto asks. This calls for a critical understanding of the dominant mode of production and living, and the “recurring of logics of care and a turning away from logics of profit”. It calls for overcoming capitalism which, according to Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen, is today stabilised and expanding as an Imperial Mode of Production and Living through social practices and norms, infrastructures and services, institutions and pseudo-solutions.

So, the question is not only how to care practically today, but how to create conditions that allow all to care? – so that caring becomes just normal “organising ourselves with each other, not against each other. Today, only those who can out-compete others can become active for society. But it shouldn’t be about that, it should be about making cooperative action an obvious and self-evident element of our society.” (Joan C. Tronto and Berenice Fisher.)

What’s design got to do with it?

To the largest extent designers are serving market needs – whether or not they want to (for merely making a living). Which design practices are nourishing care and the social-ecological transformation creating the conditions for care? We want to show and discuss both: inspiring practices and practical theory. Last but not least we need to tackle one dilemma: under the dominant socio-economic regime it is hard to make a living by care- and transformation-engaged design practices today. How to deal with it?

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