Co-Evolve Technology and Social Structure

Difficulty Level:

Method Overview

Co-evolve Technology and Social Structure is a method that encourages designers to engage with both the technological and socio-structural implications in their design space. The end goal is to ensure that the technical design is not considered in isolation with their socio-structural impact. Some social structures designers can investigate while developing social systems include the following “policy, law, regulations, organizational practices, social norms and others(Friedman & Hendry, 2019)

Framework of ethics used:


Method Intentions:

Getting Started

You will Need  (Friedman & Hendry, 2019)

  • Determine the social structure that will be impacted by the technology being designed.
  • Determine the values to be investigated
  • Conduct a two-pronged design approach to pay attention to both the design of the technology and the potential socio-structural impact of the technology being designed on their intended users.

Example Practices (Friedman & Hendry, 2019): 

  • Knowledge base system: “Developed a knowledge based and code repository groupware system in tandem with organizational policies for incentivizing software employee’s contributions to the system” (Miller et al., 2007).

Privacy in an open-source, location-aware system – “Working with a large technology corporation, developed a legal addendum to an open-source license that preserves user privacy attributes” (Friedman et al., 2006c).

Further Reading

Miller, J. K., Friedman, B., Jancke, G., & Gill, B. (2007, November). Value tensions in design: the value sensitive design, development, and appropriation of a corporation’s groupware system. In Proceedings of the 2007 international ACM conference on Supporting group work (pp. 281-290).

Friedman, B., Smith, I., H Kahn, P., Consolvo, S., & Selawski, J. (2006, September). Development of a privacy addendum for open source licenses: Value Sensitive Design in industry. In International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (pp. 194-211). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.


Friedman, B., & Hendry, D. (2019). Value sensitive design: Shaping technology with moral imagination. MIT Press. 

About VSD. VSD Lab. (2020, October 5). Retrieved January 28, 2022, from

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