Sociology defines daily activities, so called practices, as being determined by three elements: the meaning behind an activity (expectations, reasoning), the skills required to perform the activity (knowledge, abilities) and the material necessary (objects, tools, infrastructure). Depending on the context of an activity these elements and subsequently the meaning of the activity can change.
More about “The Dynamics of Social Practice”.
The meaning in a practice is closely related to the satisfaction of psychological needs. As Marc Hassenzahl et al. argues, a positive experience only results from an activity when the meaning behind it is fulfilled and at least one psychological need such as security, competence or physical thriving is met.
Source: Hassenzahl, M. et al., 2013. Designing Moments of Meaning and Pleasure. Experience Design and Happiness. International Journal of Design, 7(3), pp.21–31.
Daily practices play a major role in subjective wellbeing and are by their nature dynamic. For this reason, they have a high potential for enhancing wellbeing and serve as an approachable starting point for us as designers. By understanding the interplay of meaning, skills and materials and their influence on psychological needs, it becomes possible for designers to impact and shape daily practices for the better by modifying the material.