Manual The Society We Live In: Volume I

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His work culminated in the study The production and distribution of knowledge in the United States in This book was widely regarded [15] and was eventually translated into Russian and Japanese. The issue of technologies and their role in contemporary society have been discussed in the scientific literature using a range of labels and concepts.

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This section introduces some of them. Ideas of a knowledge or information economy , post-industrial society , postmodern society, network society , the information revolution , informational capitalism, network capitalism, and the like, have been debated over the last several decades.

Fritz Machlup introduced the concept of the knowledge industry. He began studying the effects of patents on research before distinguishing five sectors of the knowledge sector: Peter Drucker has argued that there is a transition from an economy based on material goods to one based on knowledge.

Porat uses the total value added by the primary and secondary information sector to the GNP as an indicator for the information economy. The OECD has employed Porat's definition for calculating the share of the information economy in the total economy e. Based on such indicators, the information society has been defined as a society where more than half of the GNP is produced and more than half of the employees are active in the information economy.

Society we Live In

For Daniel Bell the number of employees producing services and information is an indicator for the informational character of a society. Alain Touraine already spoke in of the post-industrial society. Industrial society had transformed the means of production: That is why we can call it the programmed society, because this phrase captures its capacity to create models of management, production, organization, distribution, and consumption, so that such a society appears, at all its functional levels, as the product of an action exercised by the society itself, and not as the outcome of natural laws or cultural specificities" Touraine In the programmed society also the area of cultural reproduction including aspects such as information, consumption, health, research, education would be industrialized.

That modern society is increasing its capacity to act upon itself means for Touraine that society is reinvesting ever larger parts of production and so produces and transforms itself. This makes Touraine's concept substantially different from that of Daniel Bell who focused on the capacity to process and generate information for efficient society functioning.

Knowledge would be transformed into a commodity. Lyotard says that postindustrial society makes knowledge accessible to the layman because knowledge and information technologies would diffuse into society and break up Grand Narratives of centralized structures and groups. Lyotard denotes these changing circumstances as postmodern condition or postmodern society. Similarly to Bell, Peter Otto and Philipp Sonntag say that an information society is a society where the majority of employees work in information jobs, i. Radovan Richta argues that society has been transformed into a scientific civilization based on services, education, and creative activities.

This transformation would be the result of a scientific-technological transformation based on technological progress and the increasing importance of computer technology.


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Science and technology would become immediate forces of production Aristovnik Nico Stehr , a, b says that in the knowledge society a majority of jobs involves working with knowledge. For Stehr, knowledge is a capacity for social action. Science would become an immediate productive force, knowledge would no longer be primarily embodied in machines, but already appropriated nature that represents knowledge would be rearranged according to certain designs and programs Ibid.: For Stehr, the economy of a knowledge society is largely driven not by material inputs, but by symbolic or knowledge-based inputs Ibid.: Also Alvin Toffler argues that knowledge is the central resource in the economy of the information society: At the end of the twentieth century, the concept of the network society gained importance in information society theory.

For Manuel Castells , network logic is besides information, pervasiveness, flexibility, and convergence a central feature of the information technology paradigm a: Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture" Castells For Castells the network society is the result of informationalism, a new technological paradigm.

Guy Debord predicted our distracted society

Increasingly, these networks link all units or parts of this formation individuals, groups and organizations " Van Dijk For Van Dijk networks have become the nervous system of society, whereas Castells links the concept of the network society to capitalist transformation, Van Dijk sees it as the logical result of the increasing widening and thickening of networks in nature and society. Darin Barney uses the term for characterizing societies that exhibit two fundamental characteristics: The major critique of concepts such as information society, knowledge society, network society, postmodern society, postindustrial society, etc.

Critics such as Frank Webster argue that these approaches stress discontinuity, as if contemporary society had nothing in common with society as it was or years ago. Such assumptions would have ideological character because they would fit with the view that we can do nothing about change and have to adopt to existing political realities kasiwulaya b: These critics argue that contemporary society first of all is still a capitalist society oriented towards accumulating economic, political, and cultural capital.

Information society - Wikipedia

They acknowledge that information society theories stress some important new qualities of society notably globalization and informatization , but charge that they fail to show that these are attributes of overall capitalist structures. Critics such as Webster insist on the continuities that characterise change.


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In this way Webster distinguishes between different epochs of capitalism: For describing contemporary society based on a dialectic of the old and the new, continuity and discontinuity, other critical scholars have suggested several terms like:. Other scholars prefer to speak of information capitalism Morris-Suzuki or informational capitalism Manuel Castells , Christian Fuchs , Schmiede a, b.

Manuel Castells sees informationalism as a new technological paradigm he speaks of a mode of development characterized by "information generation, processing, and transmission" that have become "the fundamental sources of productivity and power" Castells Castells has added to theories of the information society the idea that in contemporary society dominant functions and processes are increasingly organized around networks that constitute the new social morphology of society Castells Whether their writers knew anything about Debord is probably doubtful, but as unlikely it may sound, one way of opening your mind to the idea of the spectacle is maybe to re-watch two hugely successful movies about exactly the blurring of appearance and reality that he described: The Matrix and The Truman Show.

Vaneigem writes more in a more human register than Debord, and is a more straightforward propagandist:. Each morning he takes his car, drives to the office, pushes papers, has lunch in town, plays pool, pushes more papers, leaves work, has a couple of drinks, goes home, greets his wife, kisses his children, eats his steak in front of the TV, goes to bed, makes love, and falls asleep.

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Who reduces a man's life to this pathetic sequence of cliches? He does it himself, breaking his day down into a series of poses chosen more or less unconsciously from the range of dominant stereotypes.

The words point up something very important: As the book puts it: How we confront the spectacle is a subject for another piece: In truth, the spectacular dominion Debord described is too all-encompassing to suggest any obvious means of overturning it: What is incontestable, though, is how well the book, and Debord's ideas, describe the way we live now. Like the earth on which it stands, society moves in accordance with general, preexisting laws. In this system, there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as social science; there is only economic science , which studies the natural organism of society and shows how this organism functions.

Man experiences a multitude of needs , on whose satisfaction his happiness depends, and whose non-satisfaction entails suffering. Alone and isolated , he could only provide in an incomplete, insufficient manner for these incessant needs. The instinct of sociability brings him together with similar persons, and drives him into communication with them. Therefore, impelled by the self-interest of the individuals thus brought together, a certain division of labor is established, necessarily followed by exchanges.