Guest Editors’ Introduction: New Challenges to the Enlightenment: How Twenty-First-Century Sociotechnological Systems Facilitate Organized Immaturity and How to Counteract It

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review



Organized immaturity, the reduction of individual capacities for public use of reason constrained by sociotechnological systems, constitutes a significant pushback against the project of Enlightenment. Forms of immaturity have long been a concern for philosophers and social theorists, such as Kant, Arendt, Fromm, Marcuse, and Foucault. Recently, Zuboff’s concept of “surveillance capitalism” describes how advancements in digital technologies lead to new, increasingly sophisticated forms of organized immaturity in democratic societies. We discuss how sociotechnological systems initially designed to meet human needs can inhibit the multidimensional development of individuals as mature citizens. To counteract these trends, we suggest two mechanisms: disorganizing immaturity as a way to safeguard individuals’ and collectives’ negative freedoms (freedoms from), and organizing maturity as a way to strengthen positive freedoms (freedoms to). Finally, we provide an outlook on the five further articles that constitute the Business Ethics Quarterly Special Issue “Sociotechnological Conditions of Organized Immaturity in the Twenty-First Century.”


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-439
Number of pages31
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

External IDs

Scopus 85167352120
WOS 001035831000001
Mendeley 36b0b7ac-9794-318d-b5ed-b9f731ef4814



  • Control, Enlightenment, Freedom, Organized immaturity, Surveillance, Technology, freedom, control, surveillance, technology

Library keywords