Information Society

Topics: Information society, Knowledge management, Knowledge Pages: 9 (2772 words) Published: November 2, 2012


The collocation “information society” as it is now used first emerged in Japanese social science(s) in the early 1960’s. The Japanese version of the expression (joho shakai, johoka shakai) was born during a conversation in 1961 between Kisho Kurokawa, the famous architect, and Tudao Umesao, the renowned historian and anthropologist. It debuted in written texts as the title of a study published in January 1964. The author was the aforementioned Jiro Kamishima but the title was given to the study by the editor Michiko Igarashi (Sociology in Information Societies). Three authors are in competition to win the imaginary award for being the first to use the collocation “information society” in their book’s title and due to the reconstruction difficulties in regard to the dates of preparation and publication of the manuscripts, it is almost impossible to decide which publication was the first: Yujiro Hayashi’s bestseller of 1969 (Johoka Shakai: Hado No Shakai Kara Sofuto no Shakai e, The Information Society: From Hard to Soft Society) or the introductory and popularising books by Yoneji Masuda and Konichi Kohyma published in 1968 (Joho Shakai Nyumon - Introduction to an Information Society). However, there is no doubt at all that the birth and fast consolidation of the concept is linked inexorably to the island country: as early as 1971 a systematising “dictionary” on information society was published in Japan (Johoka Shakai Jiten, Dictionary of Information Societies). The first English language reference dates from 1970 and can also be linked to Yoneji Masuda, who used the expression in his lecture at a conference (it Information Society – what is it exactly? (The meaning, history and conceptual framework of an expression) appeared in print in the same year). Of course all of this does not imply that the literature (in English) of the information society does not have even earlier antecedents. It was just that different expressions were used for the newly emerged social-economic entity, namely post-industrial society and white collar revolution. A common characteristic of these proto-concepts is that they isolated one of the components, i.e. one part, ofthe rapidly changing economic-social complex and suggested that it was sufficient to describe –in both a descriptive and metaphorical sense – the whole. As a result of this, several dozen terms, each with a different approach, proliferated between 1950 and 1980 and then – in our opinion around 1980 – they merged into a comprehensive, joint umbrella term combining the concept of information and society: this new concept included and encapsulated all the previous partial concepts and even preserved the expressive power, approach and attitude they represented. The expression “post-industrial society ” was coined in 1914 in Great Britain by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and Arthur J. Penty, and later revived from 1958 in America (primarily by Daniel Bell) and from the end of the 1960s in French social sciences (likewise by Alan Touraine). At the beginning observers used it in a strongly normative (what should it be like?) or strongly predictive (what will it be like?) sense, but a shared presupposition of the authors was the accelerating “decomposition” and transformation of those industrial structures that had developed over a period of some two hundred years. Another aspect of the same structural changes was analyzed by the Australian economist Colin Clark, who introduced the concept “the third (tertiary) sector” in 1940, drawing attention to the growing importance of services as opposed to material production (service economy=tertiary sector). In regard to technology, which forms the basis of production, the term “automation” (later “cybernation”), introduced by the automotive engineer of the Ford company D. S. Harder in 1946, facilitated the discussions for decades, and dozens of evocative terms were originated to designate the...
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