The Society of Knowledge. Tendency and Perspectives

Bereich: Management & projektübergreifende Tätigkeiten

Full citation:

Hochgerner, Josef, 2013: The Knowledge Society. Tendency and Perspectives; published in Russian Language, in Suprun, Vladimir, ed., 2013: Innovations as Drivers of Socio-Cultural Change. Novosibirsk: FSPI Trend (pp. 173-199)

Excerpt from the text:

Innovations are embedded in basic cultural patterns and processes of social change, and depend on historical, regional, and political conditions. The phenomena, functions and effects, as well as the opportunities and speed of dissemination of concrete innovations, are based on and affected by these variables. The social relevance of innovations can be thoroughly ambivalent: Innovations can affirm, support, and accelerate existing social conditions and trends, or can oppose these developments and change the “normal” course of events. Although innovations are based on intentions and, by definition, unfold potential for change, their chances of success and proliferation differ according to whether the intentions and effects of an innovation comply with or run contrary to the basic patterns of a society. The effort necessary to assert the new against the old, or to make an idea or an invention successful in society or on the market, is less for innovations that provide improvements in conformity with existing expectations. Innovations that aim not at improving/perfecting, but at changing/altering the status quo may expect and need to overcome greater obstacles. (p. 173)


Data, information and knowledge constitute different levels of cognition, which on top may reach what in general debates about the knowledge society seems ignored, namely wisdom. Thereby I look at data as formal facts, whereas information consists of structured data, and knowledge bears the competence to decode, analyze and construe the content of information. Wisdom additionally includes the capacity to reflect on knowledge even to the extent of accepting varieties of knowledge and truth – on to the Socratic confession of not knowing. 
The decisive criterion of the knowledge society in its fuzzy distinction from the industrial society is not sheer lots of 'more knowledge'. Of course, more and genuinely new knowledge is required, but this nothing basically new. Knowledge was crucial at any stage of human development to survive and to make what later generations usually call progress, which sometimes appears radical enough to find a new term for an era. In case of the knowledge society it is critical to understand knowledge as capability to act (Stehr 1994, 208). Thus social innovation in this context may be considered any activity that meets the criteria of the definition, and expands not only the capacity to act, but enables and leads to concrete action. (p. 192)

At present and in the future, in addition to technical and economic innovations, a multiplicity of minor and major social innovations will become indispensable. Without them, peace and development – in keeping with the standards of industrial potentials – would be at extreme risk in a world society of eight to ten billion people, especially in light of the problems such as climate change and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. (p.194)

AutorInnen: Hochgerner (external Senior Strategic Advisor), J.


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Tags: knowledge society, social innovation

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Kategorie: Buchbeiträge

Publikations Datum: 2013

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