An unknown radical: Dennis Chapman and the home and social status

Keeble, Trevor (2009) An unknown radical: Dennis Chapman and the home and social status. Design and culture, 1(3), pp. 329-344. ISSN (print) 1754-7075


This article reconsiders the largely unknown work of British sociologist Dennis Chapman. Focusing on Chapman's 1955 study The Home and Social Status, the article proposes that Chapman's research into the design and consumption of mid twentieth century British domesticity and housing anticipates many of the later interdisciplinary questions and concerns of design history and material culture studies. Through analysis of his questions and concerns, the article demonstrates the ways Chapman characterized design as an activity of both professional designers and householders alike, and in so doing, the ways in which his work argues for a more sophisticated and inclusive understanding of design. Situating Chapman at the forefront of interdisciplinary method and thinking, the article argues that his work successfully negotiates the boundaries of design production and design consumption in such a way that subsequent disciplines have not.

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