Knowledge, economy, technology and society: The politics of discourse

David Rooney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


The WSIS is centrally interested in knowledge and has defined for itself a mission that is broadly humanitarian. Its development 'talk' is, rightly, replete with notions of equity, preserving culture, justice, human rights and so on. In incorporating such issues into knowledge society and economy discussions, WSIS has adopted a different posture towards knowledge than is seen in dominant discourses. This study analyses the dominant knowledge discourse using a large corpus of knowledge-related policy documents, discourse theory and an interrelational understanding of knowledge. I show that it is important to understand this dominant knowledge discourse because of its capacity to limit thought and action in relation to its central topic, knowledge. The results of this study demonstrate that the dominant knowledge discourse is technocratic, frequently insensitive to the humane mission at the core of the WSIS, and is based on a partial understanding of what knowledge is and how knowledge systems work. Moreover, I show that knowledge is inherently political, that the dominant knowledge discourse is politically oriented towards the concerns of business and technology, but that an emancipatory politics of knowledge is possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-422
Number of pages18
JournalTelematics and Informatics
Issue number4 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Information
  • Knowledge economy
  • Knowledge society
  • Political economy
  • Technocratic discourse


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