chapter  4
Critical Theory of Technology
Design, domination and uneven development
WithDaniel R. McCarthy
Pages 24

Critical Theory approaches to International Relations (IR) are well established in the field, forming a rich strand of theoretically sophisticated and politically engaged scholarship. 1 They highlight the often problematic nature of core theoretical assumptions in IR, asking that we enquire into the constitution of the key concepts that underpin the discipline. As a project, Critical Theory is both sociological and normative. Rather than take the world as it is and attempt to smooth its functioning, Critical Theory seeks to de-naturalize commonly held theoretical assumptions about the world and our knowledge of it in order to outline possibilities for progressive social change. Its empirical accounts investigate how the features of global politics, such as anarchy or nationalism, came into being historically. Historical sensitivity allows Critical Theory to draw out features of international politics that can change, and empirically identifies the resources within world politics that will allow for change in an emancipatory direction. This approach has been fruitful across a range of issue areas, from security studies and international political economy to global environmental politics and normative and ethical theorizing (Booth 2004; Morton 2007; Eckersley 2012; Linklater 1998).