Understanding Society and Knowledge


Understanding Society and Knowledge

9781802203783 Edward Elgar Publishing
Nico Stehr, Karl Mannheim Professor em., Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany and Professor of Sociology em., University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Publication Date: 2023 ISBN: 978 1 80220 378 3 Extent: 196 pp
Understanding Society and Knowledge proposes that knowledge rather than nature, violence, or power provides the basis of and the driving force behind human action in modern society. It demonstrates how the legally enforced restricted use of knowledge enables the transformation of the knowledge society into knowledge capitalism.

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Understanding Society and Knowledge proposes that knowledge, rather than nature, violence, or power, provides the basis of and driving force behind human action in modern society. It demonstrates how the legal containment of knowledge enables the transformation of the knowledge society into knowledge capitalism.

Providing an overview of the history of knowledge societies, Nico Stehr analyses the concept of knowledge as well as the nature of post-industrial societies. Chapters examine the genealogy of social scientific theories of modern society; the role of knowledge as a capacity to act or as an intersubjective resource; and recent changes in the structure of the material economy. The book concludes by discussing the political challenges of the knowledge society, highlighting the ways in which discoveries in modern knowledge and subsequent political responses continue to generate controversies.

This illuminating book will be an essential resource for students and scholars of economics, political science, sociology and sociological theory, as well as science and technology studies.
Critical Acclaim
‘The enormous changes of knowledge production and distribution in the last half century, extreme complexity and dangers of the social and biophysical problems that have arisen from its application, and consequent need to plot major changes of policy make this an especially important moment for reconsidering the relation of knowledge and society. Eminent scholar of modern knowledge societies, Nico Stehr’s concise yet comprehensive analysis of these matters in intellectual, socio-historical, and political-economic context provides an incisive, holistic mapping of the primary issues in hand. His Understanding Society and Knowledge will be accessible to and provoke critical thought among a wide range of readers interested in the fundamental changes of social knowledge impacting our lives and world.’
– Robert J. Antonio, University of Kansas, US

‘In his new book well known sociologist Nico Stehr draws on several decades of research on the thesis that we live in a knowledge society. One of the many interesting questions he discusses is if knowledge society will turn into knowledge capitalism and what this entails.’
– Richard Swedberg, Cornell University, US

‘Nico Stehr’s Understanding Society and Knowledge is the sort of book on the sociology of knowledge that Max Weber might have written, had he lived another hundred years. Stehr mirrors and updates Weber''s facility with the relevant literatures in law, politics and economics – as well as sociology – all brought together in aid of a higher-order social scientific understanding of the nature of knowledge. Both theorists and policymakers will find much food for thought here, as Stehr deftly intersperses his larger and more abstract claims with pointed illustrations from reports of recent events.’
– Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair of Social Epistemology, University of Warwick, UK
Contents: Preface 1 Introduction: theories of modern societies 2 The lineage of knowledge society theory 3 The science of knowledge 4 Knowledge competencies 5 The knowledge wars 6 The political economy of knowledge societies 7 Modern societies as knowledge societies 8 The political economy of knowledge monopoly capitalism 9 Political challenges of knowledge societies 10 Conclusions References Index
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