Knowledge society

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Knowledge Society is a term to describe societies which are economically and culturally characterised by a high degree of dependency on their potentials to create scientific and technological knowledge. Based upon the data-processing technologies in the information age a typical element is using knowledge strategically as a factor of economic competition among nations as well as among companies and services inside nations. Therefore research and development (R&D) are strongly connected. Knowledge is becoming a special good in the market and a product to merchandise. In an economical view knowledge societies invest in education and training of people in order to build up resources of human capital which should enable them to fulfil expectations to perpetuate traditions and more important use the knowledge to develop innovations. Important principles in a knowledge society are networking among knowledge producers, effectiveness in applying, controlling and evaluating and learning. In order to distinguish differences in quality of knowledge and knowledge institutions there is a high interest in ranking educational efforts. Social status of individuals is strongly dependent on the degree of their educational achievement. As an expression of late modernity knowledge societies are characterised by a reflexive conscience about the constructional and methodological processes. The pedagogical consequences are fixed in the expectation that everyone is in a process of life long learning in order to cope with at least relevant parts of the upcoming amount of new knowledge and with the declining relevance of old knowledge. A crucial attribute of knowledge society is an extraordinary increase of complexity of knowledge which affects not only one country but the whole world. Supported by high speed communication (internet) the amount of information cannot be coped by individuals only but has to be accompanied by educational curriculums and strategies to distinguish the meaning of information and to find a personal attitude to complexity of knowledge. Between individualisation of learning and globalisation of distributing knowledge the role of teachers are becoming important as intermediate agents.


Castells, Manuel (1996-1998): The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, Volume I,II.III, Blackwell Publishers (Oxford, and Malden, MA)

Rooney, David, Hearn, Greg, & Ninan, Abraham (2005). Handbook on the Knowledge Economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Stehr, Nico (1994): Knowledge Societies. London, Sage.

(Rainer Treptow)