Infoühiskonna määratlemine: kriitiline teooriaülevaade



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Tartu Ülikool



My Master’s thesis aimed to provide reader with an overview of the theoretical field of information society. The task included a) critically reviewing the contributions of notable information society theorists; b) assessing the scale and scope of such theories; c) comparing the merits of arguments put forth pro and con information society, thus trying to create a theoretical dialogue between different strands of thought. The first part of my work concentrated on pointing to previous classifications of information society (by Frank Webster, Alistair S. Duff and Charles Steinfield & Jerry L. Salvaggio), that is describing various indicators used to denominate a society as „information society”. Presuming the notion of „information society” refers to a distinctively new type of society, I concluded that the emergence of such society would entail wide-ranging tranformation processes across numerous societal realms. Comparing the different classifications of forementioned theorists, I also concluded that „information society” seems to be a somewhat exclusionary term and the treatments of information society rarely include many important spheres, such as arts or psychology. I then moved on to present the thoughts of two most influential macro-theorists on the field of information society: Daniel Bell (his seminal „The Coming of Post-Industrial Society” (1973) and also „The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism” (1976)) and Manuel Castells (his trilogy „Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture” (1996-1998)). Setting their ideas against various criticisms, I aimed to show many contradictory or weakly argued ideas in their otherwise skilful treatments. I also pointed to some superficialites concerning a) the level of the individual; b) the historical dimension. The last theoretical chapter concentrated on creating a historical perspective to the seemingly „new” processes of contemporary. Mainly reviewing the ideas of Brian Winston, James Beniger and Paschal Preston I presented the view according to which the dynamics of „information society” can by and large be explained with an extension of historical continuities, ie the deepening of capitalist logic. Comparing the scales of reviewed theories and the arguments used to justify or repudiate our societies being „informational”, I concluded that in some conditions reasonable parts of the arguments can be viewed as complementary, for example, synchronical views describing better what is „new” in our age and diachronical views bringing out the historical roots of some of those „newnesses”. Thus there needn’t necessarily be a conflict between different schools of thought.


H Social Sciences (General), magistritööd, infoühiskond, teoreetilised aspektid