Developing an impact evaluation framework for product designers inspired by the capability approach: a case study on the Philips Chulha

Marel, Floris van der
Within the field of Product Design there is an increasing interest in designing with emerging markets. Considering how long people have already been concerned with increasing global living standards it is surprising how little has been achieved. This suggests our current methods are insufficient. The Capability Approach (CA) by Amartya Sen offers a new way of assessing inequality and poverty, focusing on what people have reason to value to be or do. Products can be means to achieve these beings and doings. An evaluation framework inspired by this philosophy was developed. The framework was tested in a case study. The sociological impact was evaluated of the Philips Chulha, a subsidized cooking stove implemented in tribal India. The impact in terms of the CA was identified and explained using Kleine’s Choice Framework and Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. The framework was successful in engaging into deep dialogues with the target users. The interpreter appeared to be highly influential on the way the study was executed. Since the research was conducted in one region, no firm statements could be made based on this single case study. The framework needs further testing and developing in order to increase the collaboration between the interviewer and the interviewee. Eventually product designers can use the improved evaluation framework as a prospective framework to uncover design opportunities for developmental purposes.


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Citation Formats
F. v. d. Marel, “Developing an impact evaluation framework for product designers inspired by the capability approach: a case study on the Philips Chulha,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2012.