Tech, Design,
and the Replication of Systems of Oppression


This paper provides a look into the role of design in reinforcing social inequities and false consciousness. As technology becomes rapidly more prominent in human routine, its design plays a crucial role in its social, psychological, political, and economic impact on individuals and communities. Studying the social norms and systems that influence user experience design, the author deconstructs everyday design behaviors and the danger they pose.

I introduce a new term, coded fetishism, which refers to "the process by which technology design reinforces cultural hegemony and perpetuates false consciousness by reconditioning commodity fetishism.”

key topics

design justice, surveillance capitalism, black feminist theory, liberatory design, social stratification, social control, the new jim code (benjamin), the digital poorhouse (eubanks), false and class consciousness, cultural hegemony in tech, commodity fetishism

relevant readings

race after technology, Ruha Benjamin
design justice, Sasha Costanza-Chock
society of the spectacle,
automating inequality,
Virginia Eubanks
algorithms of oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble
age of surveillance capitalism,
Shoshana Zuboff