The Information Society / Edition 1

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In this timely new book, Christopher May surveys some of the most influential and important writings that declare we are entering a new information age. It is frequently asserted that this will bring about a social transformation and that the character of work is being transformed by the widespread deployment of information and communication technologies. In a similar manner we are told the world of politics is changing, with new communities emerging which will alter the practices of politics in profound and novel ways, and which will significantly reduce the role of the state and government. Each of these claims is subjected to a detailed critique.

Christopher May suggests that while there have clearly been some major and important changes prompted by the information technology revolution, these are often changes only in the forms of activity and not their substance. The information age represents some marked and important continuities with previous social practices, rather than the overthrow of all that has gone before. This sceptical view balances and moderates the often hysterical celebration of the new information society - a celebration which, the author argues, often lapses into an apologia for modern capitalism.

The Information Society will be of particular interest to students in sociology, politics, political economy, media and cultural studies and information studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A powerful analysis of our contemporary world which systematicallydebunks the hyperbolic and deterministic claims that are endlesslyrepeated about the role of new technologies in society . . . Withcandour and clarity, and through the use of examples, May providesalternative interpretations by analysing the complex realities ofcontemporary change." Stephen Graham, University ofNewcastle-upon-Tyne

"A very engaging, even pungent, and highly accessible book. Itwill be a very useful student text for those who are willing to bechallenged in their thinking about "the informationsociety"."Frank Webster, University of Birmingham

"It's refreshing to read an argument that is sceptical about thewider claim being made for digital technologies but which alsoacknowledges the new centrality of the collection, production anddissemination of information to our economy and culture. TheInformation Society [ital] is a sober audit of the real stateof play, and a convincing retort to those who argue digitalisationwill undermine all previous power structures, rendering the stateand old forms of work obsolete." Tribune

"This book offers a clear overview of the developments of ICTsand their impact on society...It is a substantial text thatprovides a different and thought-provoking viewpoint. It will findits way onto the shelves of academic and public libraries, as wellas the personal libraries of many professionals with an interest inthe information society." Managing Information

"It is highly recommended for anyone who has felt uneasy aboutthe hype which has been generated about "the Information Society"and the "Knowledge Economy", and on a broader plan, for anyone whois concerned with social change." Martin Ward, E.LearningAge

Although some of the most triumphalist boasts about the advent of an essentially new global information economy has been muted by the burst of the dotcom bubble, some of the key assumptions related to the concept of the information economy are still considered relevant. May (international political economy, U. of the West of England), surveying some of the economic literature, criticizes assumptions that the organization of economic relations has been transformed and that the state and its authority are in terminal decline. He argues that political and economic continuities are far more profound than the tribunes of the "new age" can allow. Distributed in the US by Blackwell Publishers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745626857
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher May is Senior Lecturer in InternationalPolitical Economy, University of the West of England.

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Table of Contents



1. What is the Global Information Society?.

The Idea of an Information Society.

Four Central Claims about the Information Society.

2. Locating the ‘Information Age' in History:.

The New Age.

Technological Determinism and the Information Age.

Lewis Mumford and Technological History.

Marx, Capitalism and the Information Society.

The Informationalization of Society.

3. Information Capital, Property and Labour:.

The Transformation of Work.

Statistics and the Information Society.

What is Service Work?.

The End of Work as We Know it?.

The Continuity of Property Relations.

(Information) Labour in the Global Economy.

4. Communities, Individuals and Politics in the InformationSociety:.

Politics in the Information Age.

(New) Political Communities.

Images, Gifts and Information Politics.

Individualism in the Information Society.

Communicating Politics.

5. W(h)ither the State?.

Early Views of the State in the Information Age.

Sidelining the State.

‘And Still it Moves'.

Globalization, the Information Society and the State.

A Death Frequently Foretold.

6. Back to the Future:.

Shortcomings of Technological Forecasting.

The Dual Dynamic of Information Society.

Sceptical yet Hopeful.

Appendix: Intellectual Property.



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