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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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 Information Society:.
Politics in the Information Age.
(New) Political Communities.
Images, Gifts and Information Politics.
Individualism in the Information Society.
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.