Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Tim Kastelle
Nico Stehr and Jason L. Mast1 INTRODUCTION: THE SCOPE OF THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY As the first decade of the twenty-first century has drawn to a close, the terms ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘knowledge society’ are becoming increasingly commonplace in scientific discourses, in national and transnational politics, and in many other institutions. Yet despite these terms giving new vibrancy in public and political discourse, they remain contested concepts in the academic world from which they originated. In our introduction, we delineate the theoretical origins and the scope of these concepts, trace their varied development over time, and illuminate the main themes that emerge from the debates they inspired. What follows is of course an engagement with academic knowledge and discourse in its own right; however, we also intend it to speak for how one practically experiences the social, cultural, and material conditions of post-industrial life. Put another way, the terms ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘knowledge society’ also refer to contemporary ‘real’ societal conditions at the outset of the twenty-first century; conditions such as the sources of economic growth, patterns of employment, modes of technological innovation, bases of social inequality, the increasing importance of intellectual property rights, the substance of ‘human capital,’ and, more broadly, the erosion of once dominant forms of work and production as well as social and structural patterns typical of everyday life. We do not want to lose sight of this fact. OVERVIEW We begin our overview of the knowledge-based economy in social theory and sociology as it first...
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