Personal tools

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

You are here: Home / Courses / PhD Courses / Course 1001: The Knowledge Society: Limits and Possibilities

Course 1001: The Knowledge Society: Limits and Possibilities

The course will be taught as a seminar course involving the participation of both faculty and students at CSCS. The objective is to explore an emerging area of inquiry and engagement which is of direct concern to higher education in India and the world at large. CSCS believes that the exploration would enable present-day and future researchers to situate their questions about culture and society in relation to changing institutional scenarios of knowledge production. To this end, we will read closely a range of texts, including policy reports, critical writings, historical scholarship, fiction and documentary film. Students will be encouraged to take active part in assembling the texts and supplementary material.

The Context

The idea of knowledge society gained currency in recent debates over a variety of themes including Science and Technology studies, higher education, development studies, environmental studies, information and communication technologies, and social theory. The vantage points of engagement vary widely, ranging from fundamental concerns of epistemology and methodologies of understanding of ‘change’ or social transformation of processes and conceptual categories, to a more applied or translational concerns of ‘development strategies’ or social action politics.

Of course, all these debates have accumulated over a long period, one that has concerned itself with the  changing nature of capitalism (leading to its current formation into varieties of neoliberalism), the changing nature of the enterprise of research (especially scientific research and its impact on the continuity of ‘public science’), the advances in social theory both as methodology and as substantive concern of the sociology of knowledge. As is well known by now, the basic impetus to these debates in a way provided by developments in information and communication technologies and more recently developments in bio research. Over the last decade, since the multi-volume work of Castells on Information Society in the last 1990s, a variety of theoretical concerns emerged around understanding the nature and potential of these changes. 

A basic question may be asked against this backdrop: is the idea of a 'knowledge society' in any way fundamentally different from its predecessors (such as technological society, information society, network society, etc.)? What would be the key components of such a society,? assuming that it indeed marks such a fundamental paradigm shift. How have the advancements in social theory helped us understand better these significant changes? What implications do they have in shaping our understanding about social transformation?  How do many concerns of justice that remain unresolved in the earlier contexts of capitalist development re-emerge in the knowledge society? These and many other questions need close and critical scrutiny in order to move towards understanding the idea of knowledge societies.

The proposed course intends to explore these and related questions primarily through four vantage points: the context and sources of the current debates, debates on learning, both as an epistemic concern as well as the spaces of learning processes, debates on knowledge economy and the emerging concerns of’ justice’ in knowledge societies.

Week 1 (August 9): Introduction to the course

Week 2 (August 16): Key issues in theorizing the knowledge society

A Vision, A Dream, or A Possibility? Contextualising the Knowledge Society Debate

The discussion will aim to bring together some trajectories that contributed to the making of the knowledge society debates.

Ellul, J. (1964), The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books).

Lyotard, Jean Francois, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984)
Manuel Castells (ed): The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Cheltenham: Edward lgar Publishing, 2004)
Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley and Kristin Tolle (ed): The Fourth Paradigm: Data Intensive Scientific Discovery (Washington: Microsoft Research Centre, 2009) (link found here)
Taking European Knowledge Society Seriously, Report of the Expert Group on Science and Governance to the Science, Economy and Society Directorate, Directorate-General for Research, European Commission (2007) (link found here)

Week Three (August 23): Future of the University (Link found here)

Arab knowledge report 2009 (Link found here).

MIT Industry: chapter 24 (Link found here)
The Rise of Network Universities:Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy, by John Pruett, Nick Schwellenbach (Link found here)
Contours of the Emergent Knowledge Society: Theoretical Debate and Implications for Higher Education Research, by Egbert deWeert (Link found here)


Week Four (August 30)The Science Complex

An answer to the question: What is enlightenment? by Immanuel Kant (Link found here).
Back to the Pre-Socratics: The Presidential Address, by Karl R. Popper (Link found here).
What is enlightenment? by Michel Foucault (Link found here).
The Question Concerning Technology by Heidegger (Link found here)

Models at the interface between science and society:
impacts and options, by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Christoph Schlumpf, Martin Büssenschütt, Andreas Schönborn and Jan Burse.  (Link found here

Science and society: Rights and Responsibilities, ICSU strategic review, July 2005. (Link found here

Science and engineering ethics ( 2002 ).  (Link found here


Harnessing Science to Society.  (Link found here) Building trust between science and society  A Scientist GÇÖs Manifesto. (Link found here
Science Shops-Interfaces Between Science And Society. (Link found here)

Cyclical Interaction at the Science-Industry Interface, theoretical foundations and implementation examples. (Link found here)
Research Commercialization : Roles of university spin off at the university-industry interface. (Link found here)
A rationale for science–policy interfaces, by Sybille van den Hove (Link found here). 
Improving the Interface between Industry and Army Science and Technology Some Thoughts on the Army’s Independent Research and Development Program, by John W. Lyons, Richard Chait, and Jordan Willcox. (Link found here

Week Five (September 6)

Readings for week five:  (Link found here)
What the Knowledge Society could do. Imaging the Impact

This session will bring together debates on how knowledge society idea has impacted the debates concerning various processes of interventions, policy oriented as well as strategic.

UNESCO declaration on the Use of Scientific Knowledge 1999
World Bank, Constructing Knowledge Societies, 2002
William Dutton, Social Transformation in Knowledge Society, 2004
Craig Johnson, Knowledge for Social Change, 2009

Week Six ((September 13) : Law, Knowledge and Social Justice
Readings for week six (link found here)

Week Seven (September 27): The Creative Economy (Radhika P.)
Creative Economy Report 2008. (Link found here)
Cultural Rights and Cultural Diversity Convention. (Link found here)Intellectual Property Meets the Cyborg: Performance and the Cultural Politics of Technology by Philip Auslander. (Link found here)
Positioning the Big Idea. by Sethi and Ahluwalia. (link found here)
Statement by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington on Folklore, Indigenous Knowledge, and the Public Domain July 09, 2003. (link found here).

Week Eight (October 11): The Knowledge Economy (S.V. Srinivas)
Stuart Cunningham, The humanities, creative arts and the innovation agenda. (Link found here)
Joseph E. Stiglitz, Public Policy for a Knowledge Economy. (Link found here)
Paul A. David and Dominique Foray, Economic Fundamentals of the Knowledge Society. (Link found here)
Mark Olssen and Michael Peters, Neoliberalism, higher education and the knowledge economy: from the free market to knowledge capitalism.(Link found here)
Business of Borderless Education (Summary of Report). (Link found here)

Week Nine (October 18): Democracy and Knowledge (Swagato Sarkar)
Govindarajan Interview on innovation. (Link found here)
Habermas : Three Models of Democracy.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan : Biocapital [Intro, and first few pages of Chap 1].
Richard Gilbert :Looking for Mr. Schumpeter: Where Are We in the Competition--Innovation Debate? [pages - 162-168, 181-187]

Week Ten (October 25): Identity and Citizenship (Ashish Rajadhyaksha)

Week Eleven (October 29): Concluding Discussion  (Sitharamam Kakarala)

 Week Twelve (November 8): Student Presentations

Course requirements: Class participation and a term paper.

Document Actions

Courses at CSCS

Courses offered by CSCS since 2001, both in-house and outside

Research Programmes