Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Information society: networks, collective action and the role of institutions

Fitzsimons, Vincent G. (2006): Information society: networks, collective action and the role of institutions. Published in: International Journal of the Humanities , Vol. 3, No. 6 (2006): pp. 19-32.

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The knowledge economy and knowledge society depend on the development of networks of communications in terms of both physical possibilities of national and international infrastructure, and the inclination of individuals to participate in these. The rapid spread of such technical capacity, and the rise of wireless methods of communications enables many countries that might previously have been prevented from developing such an infrastructure to rapidly develop capacity. This physical development has reduced the costs of communications and consequently information, as well as the freedom to communicate internationally and, implicitly, inter-culturally. It is also recognised, however, that a range of social and economic factors influence the attitudes of individuals towards such communication, and also the possibilities of collective action both within and across nations, depending on the economic and social costs and ‘payoffs’ of such activities. The growth of low-cost information provision and low-cost international communications using the internet has raised the potential benefits of such facilities so that it is changing much of the nature of economic interaction in modern, as well as more traditional societies. Whether or not it will demonstrate a similar significance for the development of an information society remains to be seen, but parallels can be drawn between such changes and the existing analysis of networks, organisations and political ‘collective action’ from the grass roots level. Networks form a significant complement to the existing media that are also seizing on the potential of this modern technology, and constitute a source of general, or more specifically valuable information to individuals in society.

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