Knowledge and Economic Conduct

Knowledge and Economic Conduct: The Social Foundations of the Modern Economy

NICO STEHR
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442676527
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  • Book Info
    Knowledge and Economic Conduct
    Book Description:

    Changing economic circumstances ? namely, an end to the primacy of labour and property as determinants of prosperity ? have created a need for a new theoretical platform: one that transcends standard economic discourse.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7652-7
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-2)
  6. Introduction: Social Sciences, the Economy, and Politics
    (pp. 3-9)

    There are a number of important theoretical, political, and historical reasons for addressing the nature of the changing economic structure in modern society, as well as the societal significance of the economy for modern society, and therefore the need to re-examine how modern economies work.

    First, we are on the verge of a fundamental change in the nature of themodern economy. The engine of much of the dynamics of economic activities and the source of much of the growth of added economic value can be attributed to knowledge. The age of the ′material′ economy is giving way to the...

  7. Chapter One Economic Activities and Social Action
    (pp. 10-15)

    Prior to, and for many years after, the now-entrenched and extensive intellectual differentiation within the social sciences that may be traced to the beginning of the twentieth century, there was little doubt that economic issues played a central role within sociological discourse and that sociological concerns were almost invariably part of economic discourse.¹ Classical political economics is really classical social science. The starting points of economics are identical with the beginnings of social science. The work of Adam Smith inThe Wealth of Nations, considered to be the inception of economic discourse, goes far beyond the boundaries fixed and protected...

  8. Chapter Two Knowledge as a Productive Factor
    (pp. 16-62)

    Until recently, modern society and economy have been understood primarily in terms of tangible assets (or property: land, equipment, structures that house the equipment, and inventories) and labour. Labour and property¹ have a long association in social, economic, and political theory.² Work is seen as property and as a source of emerging property. Adam Smith ([1776] 1909: 586) explains: ′Land and capital stock are the two original sources of all revenue both private and public. Capital stock pays the wages of productive labour, whether employed in agriculture, manufacturing, or commerce. The management of those two original sources of revenue belong...

  9. Chapter Three Knowledge Societies
    (pp. 63-73)

    John Stuart Mill, inThe Spirit of the Age- published in 1831 after his return to England from France, where he had encountered the political thinking of the Saint-Simonians and of the young Auguste Comte - affirms his conviction that societal progress becomes possible as the result of the intellectual accomplishments of his own age (cf. Cowen and Shenton, 1996: 35-41). But progress and the improvement of social conditions are not, Mill argues, the outcome of an ′increase in wisdom′ or of the collective accomplishments of science. Rather they are linked to the general diffusion of knowledge throughout society:...

  10. Chapter Four The Modern Economy
    (pp. 74-92)

    What is the economy? Citing Emil Lederer (1922:18), nothing seems to be more straightforward to enumerate. What constitutes the modern economy? Dominant images of social reality and social institutions always have their history. Socially important world views are often less contentious than the professional perspectives of the same phenomena. While professional observers are quickly convinced of the essential fragility of their observations, or lament a crisis in theoretical perspectives, world views are much more stable and resistant to changes. Everyday conceptions do not develop in splendid isolation; rather, they often garner support from professional quarters.

    Dominant societal world views are,...

  11. Chapter Five The Future of Work?
    (pp. 93-185)

    While the public, encouraged by the opinion leaders of large social institutions in modern society, may still be reluctant to recognize some of the profound changes in the structure of the modern economy, the academic literature has for some time been concerned with the emergence not only of precarious work (e.g., Betcherman, 1995), but the decline in the volume of work as evidence for increasingly discernible symptoms of much more permanent changes to the structure of employment.¹

    The answer to the question of the future of work was, at one time, the elimination of skills, and more recently it has...

  12. Chapter Six The Changing Economic Structure of Society
    (pp. 186-201)

    In knowledge societies the value of work in general changes. Of course, labour and production continue to be important, but the success of modern economies results in a development of central life interests uncoupled from economic rationality (in the sense of efficiency, optimal performance, and the necessity to serve basic existential needs). This change can also be described as the beginning of the end of the work-centered civilization.

    Despite the recurrent concerns about the performance of the economy, I would like to point out that nothing in the history of the industrialized countries in Western Europe and North America resembles...

  13. Chapter Seven Globalization, Information, and Knowledge
    (pp. 202-212)

    As is true for technological development, a simple determinism is also inadequate in the case of the analysis of the social and economic manifestations of ′globalization,′ a term now very much in vogue. And as Zygmunt Bauman (1998:1) astutely observes, all vogue concepts share a similar, unspectacular fate: ′The more experiences they pretend to make transparent, the more they themselves become opaque.′

    In the imagination of many, globalization, as theNew York Times¹ describes it, increasingly ′stitches lives all over the world into a single economic quilt.′ When Canadian or German politicians and managers in a sceptical, even gloomy mood...

  14. Chapter Eight Economy and Ecology
    (pp. 213-230)

    For almost twenty-five years, ecological or environmental problems have constituted one of the most salient public issues in many, though not in all, countries. In this chapter, I therefore plan to explore the contested interrelations between the pursuit of economic and ecological objectives (cf. Berger, 1994), using the issue of climate change as my illustrative example. The societal context and point of departure relevant to the discussion, which forms the premise of the conclusions I plan to draw is, of course, the economy of knowledge societies and its unplanned, uncoordinated, and competitive (capitalist) nature.¹ Lastly, among the elementary (material) assumptions...

  15. Chapter Nine Prospects: The Fragility of the Future
    (pp. 231-236)

    Instead of providing the usual summary and conclusion at this point, I propose to offer some reflections that might be characterized as an outlook or as a way of describing the prospects of a knowledgeintensive economy. In such a context, normative questions of what can be done, considering the diagnosis of modern society and economy presented here, cannot be dodged. It is surely an important symbol of modernity that one feels forced to pose this question and to take it seriously. Opinions no doubt differ, however, as to whether convincing prescriptions can be found and whether these answers can be...

  16. Appendix
    (pp. 237-242)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 243-306)
  18. References
    (pp. 307-348)
  19. Name Index
    (pp. 349-357)
  20. Subject Index
    (pp. 358-360)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 361-361)