Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/6366
Cognitive design. Creating the sets of categories and labels that structure our shared experience
Following in the tradition of studies of categorization in everyday life, this dissertation focuses on the specific case of sets of categories. The concept of the "contrast set," developed by cognitive anthropologists in the 1950s, is the central focus of analysis. Canonical examples of everyday life constrast sets include alphabets, identification numbers, standard pitches, and the elements of geographical categorizations. This dissertation focuses on the design issues surrounding the deliberate, consicious construction of such sets (rather than on contrast sets which are natural or emergent). Tha chapters focus respectively on the creation of contrast sets; the way contrast sets are used as labels for other contrast sets; the use of rules, principles, and set topologies in this labeling process; the standardization and institutionalization of contrast sets, the way in which people justify, legimate, and attempt to change standardized contrast sets; and the ways people learn about unfamiliar contrast sets.
The dissertation uses the method of pattern analysis. It identifies and describes abstract social forms, gives numerous conctete examples of each form, and includes sixty images. The goal is to understand a recurrent type of human activity that affects and structures many everyday life experiences. The dissertation is practically oriented as well, and directly addresses the concerns of those responsible for designing contrast sets for public use.