First Advisor

Meredith James

Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design and University Honors


Art + Design




Graphic Design




This text proposes the development and implementation of methods of critical sociological inquiry in the graphic design field, contending that such methods would allow for a holistic understanding of the changing working conditions of graphic designers, as well as encourage graphic designers to critically engage with the politics of their work. To this end, I trace the tradition of "workers' inquiry" or "co-research" to its source, Karl Marx's 1880 "A Workers Inquiry", a questionnaire he created with the aim of increasing knowledge of proletarian working conditions. I take stock of the contemporary critical discourse and the limited sociological research that exists around graphic design work. From there, I draw parallels between the rapidly changing working conditions of the late Industrial Revolution that compelled Marx to write the "Inquiry" and the period of technological change we find ourselves in today. Finally, I explain the reasoning behind my adaptation of the original "A Workers Inquiry" for contemporary graphic designers to create a document that would increase knowledge of working conditions in graphic design, as well as encourage designers to critically engage with the politics of their work, consider themselves in relation to the history of work, and compare our historical moment with the technological turn of the Industrial Revolution.

Persistent Identifier

Available for download on Wednesday, June 19, 2024