Andrew Feenberg


On his book Technosystem: The Social Life of Reason

Cover Interview of December 17, 2017


Our first child was born in the early 1970s during an upsurge in feminist demands for more humane obstetric procedures. The admission of partners to labor and delivery rooms was the most important reform resulting from this agitation. We were among the first lucky ones to enjoy this new dispensation. This is where I discovered the theme of this book. The astonishing experience of admission to the process of birth, in violation of long-standing medical tradition, got me thinking about how arbitrary are many of the rules and regulations we take for rational.

This was not the only time I was reminded of the social influences on what are ostensibly purely rational procedures. I worked with a medical research foundation and a research institute that created the first online education program. These experiences confirmed my belief that the “rational society” is no technocratic utopia, but the scene on which social forces confront each other. There are many opportunities today in this period of political turmoil over environmentalism to measure the limits of rationality as a social form.

Technosystem provides a theoretical framework for an insight that comes to us in fragments from time to time. It aims to defend citizen agency against the frequent unjustified ideological appeals to rationality that characterize our political life. This is ultimately what I hope Technosystem can communicate to its readers.