CONSUMERISM for designers -17

Post 10 -by Gautam Shah

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Stakeholders : A stakeholder is a person, group or organization, having an interest, concerns or grievances for the objectives, policies, plans of actions or effort. These persons are inside or outside the organization, but show a characteristic proximity, intimacy, knowledgeability, and have degree of physical affectations and urgency.

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Small business stakeholders meet > Flickr image by MarylandGovPics

Stakeholders Interests : Stakeholders’ interests are positive or negative but may show contradicting interests. Secondary stakeholders are sometimes indirectly affected, more distanced and may not acutely represent the urgency. Internal stakeholders, at organizational level are like staff, suppliers, consultants, financiers, investors, etc. The stakeholders’ interests could be economics, social, work conditions, safety and security, environmental concerns, public resources and enforcement of Government and other obligatory regulations. At other level the stakeholders could have political interest, propagation of ideology, support or negation of specific materials, processes or technologies.

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Open dialogue with stakeholders for their priorities in Kigali, Rwanda > Wikipedia image by UNDP

Managing Stakeholders : Stakeholders represent bridges of social connections, which if properly cultivated help public acceptance of designers’ works. The acceptances include new clients, approvals, grants, loans. The social bridges can act as buffers, to tide over the shortfall, on quality expectations, delivery schedules, budget over-runs and professional competition. Stakeholders increase the business credibility of the organization, and personal social reliability.

How to deal with Stakeholders : It is easier to deal with stakeholders as a group than in isolation. Recognize stakeholders for their geographic and class of affectation. The real affectations could be economic, social, safety, encroachment or compromise of rights and opportunities for participation in the process. A stakeholder or the group may want public exposure, a media story or political gratification. Stakeholders are societal influences and demand certain respect, and this can be offered through participation or engagements. Both of these can be achieved by keeping them informed in design conception, planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation processes.

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Consumers get a choice in broad (estate) market, but sufficient and reliable information must be available > Wikipedia image by User:Vmenkov

Consumerism : It is a concept that relates to consumers’ rights, about protection and information for products and services regarding practices such materials, processes of production, testing, certification, packaging, claims in advertising, efficacy of guarantees. It ensures social justice through fair economic practices. The term ‘Consumerism’ (since 1915) can also include consumerists’ movement, consumer activism or consumer protection.

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Consumer protection is an all enveloping umbrella > Wikipedia image by Priyanshi  rastogi21

Consumer Rights in India : Consumer rights are now being reformatted as laws and obligatory practices (specifications and standards). One of the most important legal framework covering individuals and organizations, is the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. These laws provide right to know, demand and get effective application of consumer rights. Any individual who purchases products or services for his personal use and not for manufacturing or resale is called a consumer. It includes the right to be protected from all kind of hazardous goods and services, the right to free choice and be informed about quality of all goods and services, the rights to participate in the issues of consumer interests and the right to seek redressal. The department of Consumer Affairs is the nodal organization to protect the consumer rights, redress the consumers’ grievances and promote the standards governing goods and services provided in India. A hierarchy of consumer courts have been established to handle such cases.

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First known consumer cooperative was a retail store founded by 28 members in England 1844

Monopolies and Restrictive trade practices regulations (in India) : The MRTP act (passed in 1969) became effective from June 1970. Its major aim was consumer protection by preventing concentration of economic power, and provides for control of monopolies. It has been now improvised as Competition Act, 2002. It restricts monopolistic and restrictive and unfair trade practices. It addresses, to matters of cartel forming for production, sales, distribution, pricing, limiting new technologies, elimination of potential competitors for goods and services.

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Ralph Nader supporters protest against exclusion from televised debates in 2000 > Wikipedia image by Carolmooredc

Ralph Nader movement in USA for consumers : Ralph Nader (1934) is an American consumerism activist. His concern included consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government. Nader (1965) published a book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ on safety performance of US automobiles. He criticized auto industry for putting style and power over safety while questioning Government’s attitude on regulations. In 1967, Nader also initiated a campaign for federal standards on slaughterhouses. Ralph Nader (1960-1970) mobilized college students to form Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), for aiding in his investigations in public policy and effective government regulation. This resulted in reports on baby food, insecticides, mercury poisoning and coal-mine safety.Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader 2007 image by Don LaVange (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wickenden )

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17 CONSUMERISM part of the lecture series DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES

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Gautam Shah

Former adjunct faculty, Faculty of Design CEPT University, Ahmedabad and Consultant Designer

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