Workshop: Knowledge Society: History and Politics in Advanced Western Societies (Part 1)

Monday, 25.4, 15-19
Campus Ulmenstraße, U69-H1-024

The aim of the workshop is to explore the core components of knowledge societies, and to explain their origin, behavior and nature.

At least since the structural crisis of the sixties and the seven-ties, the development of contemporary Western societies has been marked by a series of vast, deep transformations. As a general result, they have led to the formation of what Daniel Bell early identified as post-industrial societies.

More recent literature has deepened in some of its core fea-tures, and has pointed to the upmost relevance of knowledge as a driving force. Thus we assume the label of knowledge society to refer to the stage of development of contemporary advanced Western societies, understood as a new era in the history of the modern world, and a specific configuration of its fundamental structures.

Our aim is to explore the core components of knowledge socie-ties, and to explain their origin, behavior and nature. The dis-cussion will be organized in three major parts:

  • Knowledge-based economy, globalization, and the transformation of the modern corporation. Data and knowledge as commodities.
  • Labor markets, the implementation of societal mecha-nisms for the generation of human capital, the fracture of the middle class and the emergence of global social macrosub-jects. Transformation and polarization of the social structure.
  • The demand for “new” public policies, political participa-tion, social media as political tools and the fragmentation of legitimacy. Politics and policy making in a knowledge society.

We will use a systemic approach, in which the interconnection and interdependence of the components of an open, complex and adaptive system are key to explain its evolution and specific features. The study we propose is fundamentally cross-disciplinary, with tools and perspectives stemming from discip-lines like sociology, political economy, or communication, integrated in a platform provided by history and political sciences.

Also, we will introduce a methodological perspective derived from the consideration and integration of a number of sources, including complexity, general systems theory, world-systems analysis, theory of realignment, comparative studies, cliodynamics. A fundamental idea is to perform analysis by units, instead of analysis by elements, by considering that the parts of the system are themselves sub-systems that express in different forms the emerging qualities of the whole to which they belong. We intend to provide a complex perspective on historic and political processes, and a set of theoretical and methodolo-gical tools to address them.

Selected Readings:

  • Ludwig von Bertalanffy. General Systems Theory.
  • David Easton. A Framework for Political Analysis.
  • Daniel Bell. Post-Industrial Society.
  • Gernot Bohme and Nico Stehr. The Knowledge Society. The Growing Impact of Scientific Knowledge on Social Relations.
  • Andreas Meier. eDemocracy & eGovernment. Stages of a Democratic Knowledge Society.
  • Manuel Castells and Gustavo Cardoso (eds). The Network Society From Knowledge to Policy.
  • George Gilder. Knowledge and Power, The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing Our World.
  • Peter Meusburger, Johannes Glückler and Martina El Meskioui (eds,). Knowledge and the Economy.
  • Peter Temin. The Vanihing Middles Class.
  • Ernesto Dominguez Lopez. Europa en el ocaso del milenio. Un Estudio del capitalism europeo en el cambio de época.


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Muno(host scientist)

Institut für Politik- und Verwaltungswissenschaften
Ulmenstraße 69, Raum 341
Tel.: 0381 498-4445

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