Building a Symbolic Value: An Alternative for Sustainable Design

By Maria Luiza de Castro.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Public policies that support design in Brazil are part of a context that is based on local and regional dynamism to promote development. From the government plans for 2000–2003, the structuring of the relations between regional strategies and federal guidelines became better coordinated with regards to design, adopting a strategy based on each region’s needs and a new management culture. In regions lacking advanced technological capabilities, the importance of design is even greater, especially when related to activities of a traditional scope, such as the production of furniture and handicrafts. Given the technological requirements of large-scale production, hopes for an endogenous development rest on the power of a “semantic innovation”, based on the symbolic content of products. It is therefore essential to analyze cultural production in a more comprehensive way and seek to incorporate design activities into a system, considering the mechanisms of value formation and the need to tune local interests to broader trends. This paper is based on Bourdieu’s analysis (1998) concerning the market of symbolic goods and it discusses the way in which knowledge of the mechanisms that create symbolic value can help build a coherent strategy in the search for sustainable design in traditional environments. It discusses how public policies in Brazil have been conducted and how they can be re-structured in order to enhance the possibilities of development that respects the natural environment and promotes social sustainability.

Keywords: Sustainability, Design, Symbolic Value, Bourdieu, Brazil

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.41-51. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 227.728KB).

Maria Luiza de Castro

Professor / Researcher, Department of Technology, Architecture School, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

My fields of interest are: architecture, design, development, sustainability. I have a Doctor’s Degree in Social-environmental Sciences from the School of High Studies of the Amazon Area (Federal University of Para) and have worked for 3 years as a consultant in design for the brasilian Service of suport to small enterprises (SEBRAE), and I have developed research projects in Furniture and jewelry design also in the Amazon Region. Presently I’m a full time professor and researcher at the Federal university of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte. Brazil.