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Information Society

May 9, 2008

Information society?


In the process of trying to establish a framework to describe what an information society is, I searched to see how the EU is defining the Information Society.  Below is an interactive link to a video designed to highlight the meaning of an information society.  This video allows you to stop it upon the “exclamation mark” “!” and read further on each scenario explanation.  If you would like to view more on the Europe’s Information Society Thematic Portal, see: .


Further review of this site reflects categorical areas of information criteria such as the broad category “culture/society” but with more specificity economy and work, education, quality of life, the media, regions/geographic concerns of nation state, and research and development.  Of interest the criteria economy and in particular “e-business” caught my eye.  The header of this sub part reads “By enabling companies to sell to consumers and work with partners without being physically present, eBusiness is essential to helping European companies – particularly SMEs – take advantage of the Single Market, driving prices down and bringing “Europe’s Best” to the world.  Upon contemplation this statement seems to say a great deal about what we have discussed this term.  While most of the writers have used the United States or Western Society in general as a baseline we can see here a distinct touting of the power of the EU to assert globalistic parameters into business management, sales and research development.  


The goal of the i2010 is to achieve a Single European Information Space (SEIS), a modern, market oriented regulatory framework for the digital economy with a single .eu domain (EISTP)[1]  One thing that appears at first glance to be significant is that the i2010 e-business program focuses on helping business enterprises that are classified as SME businesses.  SME stands for “small and medium sized enterprises” which is defined by qualification as those businesses with less than 250 employees.  Not surprisingly, these SMEs are associated with such descriptive terms as dynamic, flexible and innovative companies.  Hmmm, flexible, innovative, dynamic, these words sound oddly familiar to descriptors we have read this term.  As I think back at Bell[2] and Castells’[3] focus on education and the Fordist/neo-fordist views of flexibility I can identify some correlation, although there appear to be alternate independent variables at work here.  Fordism is characterized by “inflexibility” and a hierarchy of bureaucracy in capitalism.  Post-Fordism is characterized by “flexibility” and horizontal association.  This arises from the concept of change in the “regime of accumulation” (Webster, p. 64)[4].  This comes from the Regulation School of theory with Marxist beginnings.  Regulation theory looks for a holistic explanation of society (seen in Castells) there are “interconnections” that perpetuate society, and translate to a balance between state, social class, corporate trends, social consumption and changes in gender relationships (Webster, p. 63).  Reich’s[5] use of the Flexible Worker (see Michael Piore, Webster, p. 89-90)[6].   Reich seems to focus in his examples upon American workers, but the S-AS worker is the example of “value added”.  In other words the ability to add value to your service is a key to your value as a member of society.  Some Americans are better equipped to compete in this value added paradigm on a global playing field.  What I see in the passages at the EISTP website seem to immolate Reich’s analysis.  Thoughts?

[1] EISTP. (2008) Europe’s Information Society Thematic Portal.  

[2] Bell, Daniel. 2004. “From Industrial to Post-Industrial Society.” Pp. 86-102 in The Information Society Reader. Edited by Frank Webster and Raimo Blom. London: Routledge.

[3] Castells, Manuel. 2000. Rise of the Network Society. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

[4] Webster, Frank. 2006. Theories of the Information Society. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

[5] Reich, Robert. 1992. “The Three Jobs of the Future.” Pp. 171-84 in The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism.  New York: Vintage.

[6] Webster, 2006.

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