Dissertation Synopsis

In what ways does Design effect society and the fashionable trends that are popular?

How is design used as a political device to influence the public?

The motivation behind these questions is very strong, design as a medium of communication is extremely important within the confines of society. Design has the potential to change the way people think and view the world around them. I find it very intriguing that an audience can be manipulated purely by the images and semiotic devices they are shown. I want to explore how society views an image and what kind of impact that can have on the target audience, for instance, why was there such an uproar about the United Colours of Benneton adverts in Italy, yet no one seems to notice the cooperate media advertising, encouraging children to eat unhealthy food. This leads through to the world of advertising and psychological manipulation through subconscious messages in the advertising around us, I want to explore Graphic Design’s role in this sub verse culture. It is important to me as a designer that i express myself in a free and open way, being able to show my views without direction or orders, yet I look at countries such as Iran and Korea, where freedom of speech is prohibited, as a designer how strong a role do governments and laws play into my work and do they actually dictate what I can create and say through my work? Over all I want to research the voice that design has within society and the effects it has on it.

The information I need to find will be through a number of mediums, firstly I will explore traditional methods of research through libraries. I want to make sure that I have relevant references concerning the psychology and semiotics behind design and advertising. Then I will research through electronic methods, looking through the mass of online media and e books. I’m key to draw upon the views and opinions of those who are currently suffering because they have no freedom of speech, one such reference may be the Iranian Tweeting phenomena that took place during the voting action of 2009 and continues today. I would like to specifically interview or reference specific designers, gaining their insight into the world of semiotics and how their work has influenced society.

The structure of my dissertation will be as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Start to talk about how design effects society
  • Explore arguments of above
  • Look at how politics play a role in design
  • Explore arguments of above
  • The history of advertising and where it is today
  • Explore arguments of above
  • Psychology of design and colours, how they are used in design and advertising
  • Explore arguments of above
  • Design as communication and a way of expressing ones views.
  • Explore the arguments of above
  • Discus the different mediums of design and how they are all used differently yet have the same outcome.
  • Explore the arguments of above
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgements

Crowe, D [2003] Visible signs

3 Responses to “Synopsis”

  1. designdissertation2010 May 27, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Presentation Structure 1st October 2010

    Presentation Structure

    10am Friday 1st October 2010

    At the beginning of next term you will have to give a 5 minute presentation using your BLOG of what you have done for your research project so far.

    It should follow closely the synopsis and research strategy you have written or even rewritten and include a Literature Review.

    So the first thing you will tell us is:

    1. What is the title/question that you want to answer in your research project?
    You then may want to discuss the other questions related to your topic you will also want to answer?

    You should then tell us:
    2. What has motivated you to do this research?
    3. Why is it important to you as a designer?
    4. How are you going to find the information you require to make your research relevant, coherent and meaningful?
    5. Where are you going to do the research?
    6. How are you going to do the research?
    7. What sources are you going to use?
    8. Tell us about all you already know about the topic you want to research. This should be your Literature Review.
    9. What you are going to do during the term and when.
    The last thing you will need to show in your presentation is a Timetable and time line for your project.

    Lastly but VERY important

    The talk should be fully illustrated [using your BLOG]

    You may email me your presentation so it does not get lost! or

  2. designdissertation2010 June 11, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    You first question is a bit clumsy but the second one is much more precise and should send you on a journey that will be both exciting and rewarding. So I would stick with this: How is design used as a political device to influence the public? You will then have to look at the complexities of the way we communicate. This will mean getting to know what Semiotics is really so you do not use a surface idea of what it is. You should start by re-reading Roland Barthes’ Mythologies and then try and find a critique of this ‘structuralist’ idea of semiotics. Have a look at: Semiotics for Beginners
    By Daniel Chandler at:

    You then should look at: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback) by Catherine Belsey [or other books on the same subject] By Rowan Fuggle This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)I’m an art student, and as I was interested in orders and structures I picked this up in the bookshop, thinking “oh, what’s structuralism?” This book was so inspiring, its concise and excellent explanation of the key ideas with diverse and sometimes surprising references, was absolutely riveting. I read it in one evening, without being able to put it down, and it has formed a fundamental point of inspiration to me. Absolutely brilliant.

    Your question is excellent and there are many books you should read…

    The Hidden Persuaders. by Vance Packard

    Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. By Judith Williamson

    Propaganda by Edward L. Bernays (Author) Book Description: With politics taking centre stage due to the US presidential election, the time is perfect for a reprint of this classic work from Edward Bernays, the father of public relations and political spin and the man who designed the ad campaign that got the United States involved in World War I. Written in 1928, this was the first book to discuss the manipulation of the masses and democracy by government spin and propaganda.

    Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda by Noam Chomsky Book Description: Chomsky’s classic back-pocket primer on US government propaganda and media bias is the Open Media Pamphlet Series’s best-selling title of all time, with more than 100,000 copies in print. Arguably more important now than ever, this newly expanded edition furthers Chomsky’s analysis with his January 2002 comments regarding media coverage of terrorism and US foreign policy in the post-September 11 world.

  3. Andy Bennett August 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Hey Mark,

    Just getting into gear with the dissertation work, im quite keen to explore the social effects of Design, and how as Designers we influence trends and fashion. I find the political aspect that i chose a bit daunting and feel that i’m more in tune with the aspect of how social patterns/fashion/buying habbits can be controlled by the semiotics that we put out there as designers and artist.

    Could this be something that i can explore or do you feel that it is a bit too weak?

    I’m going to continue looking at what you’ve suggested as i feel that the books i will be looking at can overlay between the two areas.

    Thanks, hope you are having a great summer


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