Binarial hermeneutics for exploring the phenomenon of Technology in support of Design and Technology Education

Keirl, S. 2013. Binarial hermeneutics for exploring the phenomenon of Technology in support of Design and Technology Education. In: P. J. Williams and D. Gedera, eds. PATT27: Technology Education for the Future: A play on Sustainability, Conference Proceedings. Waikato, NZ: Technology Environmental Science and Mathematics Education Research Centre, University of Waikato, NZ, pp. 253-260. ISBN 978-0-9922497-2-4 [Book Section]

Keirl 2013 PATT 27 BinHerm.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (145kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

The phenomenon of technology remains a challenge for philosophers of technology itself let alone for the field of Design and Technology education. Because ‘technology’ is a complex concept it defies definition and finds itself the object of study of multiple disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, and more.

This paper introduces the concept of ‘binarial hermeneutics’ as a means for exploring, in a non- or anti-disciplinary way, the phenomenon of technology. The concept of binary is clarified and used to locate the kinds of spectra that present themselves when technology is under discussion. Examples of such spectra could be (technology as): arts-science; theory-practice; subject-object; utopia-dystopia; product-process; etc. There is no prescribed set of binaries but a key point is that the binaries are not dualisms, that is, they engage with ‘both-at-once’ rather than ‘either-or’.

Having used a binary to locate a particular spectrum, a hermeneutic approach is then taken. This approach draws upon the field of philosophical hermeneutics which addresses questions of interpretation, while resisting Cartesian dualism and serving to develop what Bohman (1999) has described as, ‘…understanding as continuing a historical tradition, as well as dialogical openness, in which prejudices are challenged and horizons broadened’.

The paper seeks to locate the kinds of discourses that arise in the theorising of Design and Technology Education (and curriculum) as well as in the areas of public and policy-making discourse. It is written to help articulate the identity of Design and Technology Education as a contested, yet distinctive and worthy, educational enterprise.

Item Type:

Book Section


binarial hermeneutics; Design and Technology Education; curriculum theory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



December 2013Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Apr 2017 09:49

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:26


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)