Open Access (free)
Andrew Feenberg’s critical theory of technology

This is the first monograph devoted to the work of one of the foremost contemporary advocates of critical theory, Andrew Feenberg. It focuses on Feenberg’s central concept, technical politics, and explores his suggestion that democratising technology design is key to a strategic understanding of the process of civilisational change. In this way, it presents Feenberg’s intervention as the necessary bridge between various species of critical constructivism and wider visions of the kind of change that are urgently needed to move human society onto a more sustainable footing. The book describes the development of Feenberg’s thought out of the tradition of Marx and Marcuse, and presents critical analyses of his main ideas: the theory of formal bias, technology’s ambivalence, progressive rationalisation, and the theory of primary and secondary instrumentalisation. Technical politics identifies a limitation of Feenberg’s work associated with his attachment to critique, as the opposite pole to a negative kind of rationality (instrumentalism). It concludes by offering a utopian corrective to the theory that can provide a fuller account of the process of willed technological transformation and of the author’s own idea of a technologically authorised socialism.

Robert Fine
Philip Spencer

more disgracefully defended Marx's second essay ‘On the Jewish Question’ on the grounds that it revealed the real links that existed between Judaism and the ‘spirit of the usurer and the trickster’. 12 The legacy of this misreading of Marx has been to encourage Marxists to work on the assumption that there was a ‘Jewish question’ to solve and to encourage scholars of antisemitism to treat Marx and Marxism as part of the problem. 13 We argue that both

in Antisemitism and the left
Graeme Kirkpatrick

identifies the values embodied in current designs with the essence of technology as such … By contrast, the design critique relates the values embodied in technology to a social hegemony’ (Feenberg 2002 : 64). 16 Identifying the authoritative character of technology with its purported rationality is now so ingrained in the Marxist tradition as to be almost a habit. For example, Gregory Claeys, in his introduction to Marx and Marxism, suggests that, for Marx, ‘technological rationality seemingly defines the limits of political will’ ( 2018 : 211), yet the phrase never

in Technical politics