Boeun Bethany Hong

Undesigning Stigma: Design Innovation for Deconstruction of Disability Stigma based on the Ontological Understanding of Design


Boeun's research interest is the role of design in shaping/reshaping human experience, focused on the experiences around the disability stigma. Her research is part of the 'Para Sport Against Stigma (PSAS)', a multi-disciplinary project for social innovation to break down barriers of disability stigma through parasport.

Boeun holds an MRes (Master of Research) in Design Innovation from Loughborough University London, graduated with distinction. Her master's dissertation was critically investigating design politics in reproducing the social hegemonies and existing global power relations. Boeun previously studied a double major in BSc Design (Clothing & Textile) and BA Sociology at Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea.

PhD research description

Boeun's PhD study investigates the design innovation that deconstructs the stigma of disability based on the concept of ontological designing. For this, her PhD seeks to identify the ontological designing relations regarding disability in different social contexts and conceive ways to redesign the experiences and discourses of disability. In recent decades, the "relationality of design" has drawn much attention from many practitioners and scholars of design. The concept of "ontological designing", in particular, sees that "the designed thing" does not exist in neutral or still (stopped) but actively engages and interacts with things, people and the world around it in chaotic ways and directions. Through the interactions, "the designed thing" is being (re)shaped, and vice versa it is (re)shaping environments, experiences, lifestyles, behaviours, thoughts, minds and discourses of people and societies. The ontological understanding of design teaches us important design implications: design should be aware of its social and political consequences, and design can be innovative for social change.

Boeun's PhD is part of the action-based collaborative research project, Para Sport Against Stigma (PSAS) funded by UK Aid and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDIH). The project aims to provide research insights for the social innovation to break down barriers of disability stigma through parasport to support access and adoption of assistive technology in Ghana, Malawi and Zambia. Boeun's study will contribute to the project by providing insights from the design perspective.

PhD supervisors

Awards, grants or scholarships received

The Institute for Design Innovation has half-funded Boeun's study. "Para Sport Against Stigma (PSAS)" has half-funded her PhD including the three years of monthly stipends. She received the Loughborough University London Excellence Scholarship in 2017.

Papers, publications and articles

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