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'Design and Emotion' in the Context of Social Differentiation

Özlem Savas

Different social classes diverge in their goals, concerns and attitudes towards material objects. Therefore, consumption preferences reflect and reproduce social differences among people. As Veblen (1957) and Bourdieu (1984) suggests, diversity in tastes among different social classes is a crucial factor which situates material objects in the context of social differentiation. The empirical data that were detected from a larger study on attachment to and detachment from products suggested that different social classes also differ in their emotional relationship with products. It was observed that lower class and upper class people respond to different aspects of products and develop different types of emotions. More significantly to consider products in an emotional context is valid and important mostly for upper class. Do these differences in emotions as to products reflect and reproduce the differences between social classes, as the diversity in tastes do? Product emotions are constituted individually and stem from the intimate relationship with products. However, as the result of recently emerging concern on emotions in design, they are now subjected to definitions, evaluations, calculations and manipulative efforts. Studies on 'Design and Emotion' seems to move towards inscription of these emotions on products as an inherent quality; and therefore, emotions as to products are capable of operating as a new factor that constitutes the link between consumption of various products and social differentiation.


Product emotions, design and emotion, social differentiation, attachment, detachment