The Global Knowledge Society is a broad interdisciplinary effort that emerged in the last decade of the twentieth century to probe the socioeconomic, technological, and geopolitical dimensions of knowledge production, growth, diffusion, and exploitation, in terms of impact on the development of societies worldwide. As a field of inquiry, the Global Knowledge Society encompasses all areas of social science including international relations, international communication, information technology, international development, and economics, as well as across the physical sciences and humanities. It also aims to fill a historical void in traditional social science—from economics and political science to international affairs and development studies—for explaining structural and environmental differences in societal rates of knowledge generation, application and adoption. A number of models on knowledge development have been explored in the literature, including the “Distributed Information Networks” approach, the “Technological Diffusion” approach, the “Genius Theory of Invention” approach, the “Creative and Proprietary Incentives” approach, and the “Cultural Legacy” approach. Models outside the social sciences and humanities also offer some rich possibilities, such as those under the label of “Idea Evolution.” Several of the models suggest the need for rethinking the mystery of persistent societal differences in knowledge growth within and between countries. Future research on knowledge society should consider bringing together researchers and policymakers from many disciplines across the natural and social sciences to review the substance of the field’s comparative methods and findings using interdisciplinary frameworks and complex factors.
Stefan H. Fritsch
International information and communication have become central cornerstones for global economic, political, social, and cultural actors, issues, structures, and processes. Accordingly, various social science disciplines have become interested in understanding international communication’s economic properties and also produced empirical evidence demonstrating its remarkable impact on global economic development. Subsequently, the relationship between technological evolution and the evolving economics of international communication has become of central importance to the analysis of international communication. Of particular relevance in this context is digitization’s impact on information and communication technologies and related digital conversion processes of once separated media and business sectors. In this context, the constantly evolving economic and technological properties of international information and communication systems and the economic opportunities/challenges they pose have also motivated or forced individuals, business enterprises, states, as well as international organizations to pursue structural and policy changes in order to reap the potential benefits of international information and communication.