, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 233–241 | Cite as

On the hermeneutics of everyday things: or, the philosophy of fire hydrants

  • Robert RosenbergerEmail author
Original Article


It can sometimes be difficult to think about “everyday” objects, those things we are so familiar with that they become taken-for-granted aspects of the backdrop of our world. But what if those objects, despite their everydayness, are politically fraught and call for closer examination? I suggest that insights from two contemporary perspectives, postphenomenology and actor-network theory, are useful for drawing out the experiential, social, and political dynamics of everyday things. In this paper, I review and resituate several key concepts from these two theoretical frameworks and outline a method for using them together for the evaluation of technology. As a guiding example, I explore a paradigmatic everyday device: fire hydrants. Despite their everyday character, hydrants fulfill multiple social roles, some of them loaded with difficult and important political implications.


Postphenomenology Multistability Hydrant Actor-network theory Materiality 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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