The Knowledge Economy and Lifelong Learning: A Critical Reader

This book presents some of the most trenchant critical analyses of the widespread claims for the recent emergence of a knowledge economy and the attendant need for greater lifelong learning. The book contains two sections: first, general critiques of the limits of current notions of a knowledge economy and required adult learning, in terms of historical comparisons, socio-political construction, and current empirical evidence; secondly, specific challenges to presumed relations between work requirements and learning through case studies in diverse current workplaces that document richer learning processes than knowledge economy advocates intimate. Many of the leading authors in the field are represented. There are no other books to date that both critically assess the limits of the notion of the knowledge economy and examine closely the relation of workplace restructuring to lifelong learning beyond the confines of formal higher education and related educational policies. This reader provides a distinctive overview of future studies of relations between work and learning in contemporary societies beyond caricatures of the knowledge economy.


Posted in Knowledge economy, Lifelong learning | Tagged ,

The Forgotten Marxist Theory of Communication & Society

Marxist political economy of communication analyses the role of communication in society and capitalism. This paper shows what it means to take a historical and materialist approach for analyzing communication and society. In the German-speaking world, Marxist communication research has largely remained a “forgotten theory”.

First, the paper analyses the role of communication in society, which requires thinking of how communication relates to work and production. Second, the paper analyses the emergence of communication in capitalist society. It shows that there is a close interaction of the dominant type of capitalism and the emergence and development of new means of communication. Third, the paper points out five roles of the media in capitalism (the production and sale of media products, advertising and commodity circulation, the legitimation of domination, regeneration and reproduction of labour-power, market for media technologies) and engages with how ideology, social psychology, audiences’ habitus and everyday practices/life interact in the reception of media contents, especially news programmes.


Posted in Communication, Marx, Society | Tagged , ,

Framing Privatisation: The Dominance of Neoliberal Discourse and the Death of the Public Good

This paper looks at the privatization Bórd Gáis Éireann (BGÉ) in 2014 and the treatment of this issue by the mainstream print media in Ireland. From a contextual perspective, this came in the wake of the global economic recession and its longer-term implications for Ireland. The media’s coverage of the sale could not be found to be impartial: both the volume and thrust of the articles were inclined to portray privatization in a favorable, non-critical light. The majority of content was presented within Neo-Liberal frames, with a competitive frame being dominant; in other words, the topic was treated from a market or business perspective rather than the perspective of the public good or wider society. A consistent source bias was also found favoring business or market interests with almost no representation of workers or civil society. Theoretically the paper argues that the framing of privatisation as a business and consumer issue, rather than a political one or that of the public good, acts to detract from the political aspects of the appropriation of public assets by international capital, including the implications for infrastructure, economic development and accountability to democratic structures, none of which receive sufficient journalistic attention.


Posted in Neoliberalism, Privatisation, Public good | Tagged , ,

The Politics of the Commons: Reform or Revolt?

In this paper I present a critical overview of the contemporary political theories of the Commons, classified in three main categories: 1) the liberal 2) the reformist and 3) the anti-capitalist. Advocates of the liberal theory of the Commons take a stand in favor of the coexistence of the Commons with the state and the market. The reformists argue for the gradual adjustment of capitalism to the Commons with the aid of a partner state, while the anti-capitalists contrast both the liberals and the reformists by supporting the development of the commons against and beyond capitalism. I make the case that both the liberal and the anti-capitalist theorists miss the likelihood of technology rendering redundant large-scale production in the future, and forcing thus capitalism to adjust to the Commons in the long run. The prospect, therefore, of an open cooperativism introduced by the reformist theory holds significant potential with respect to the future development of the Commons. For the Commons, however, to expand and flourish, a global institutional reform, followed by a set of inter-local and international principles, is sine qua non. Hence, transparency of information, distribution of value, solidarity and bottom-up self-management are the core variables of individual and collective autonomy inasmuch as they permit a community or group to formulate its values in relation to the needs and skills of its members.


Posted in Commons, Politics | Tagged ,

Anxiety and Politics

In this essay, Franz L. Neumann discusses the role of anxiety in politics. The article asks: How does it happen that the masses sell their souls to leaders and follow them blindly? On what does the power of attraction of leaders over masses rest? What are the historical situations in which this identification of leader and masses is successful, and what view of history do the men have who accept leaders? For answering these questions, the author suggests a combination of political economy, Freudian political psychology, and ideology critique. He sees anxiety in the context of alienation. Alienation is analyzed as a multidimensional phenomenon consisting of economic, political, social and psychological alienation. Neumann introduces the notions of Caesaristic identification, institutionalized anxiety, and persecutory anxiety. The essay shows that fascism remains an actual threat in capitalist societies.


Posted in Anxiety, Authoritarianism, Fascism, Political economy, Political psychology, Politics | Tagged , , , , ,

Tacit Knowledge Network Development

Knowledge-based groups or communities are complex systems that emerge, evolve and mature through stages that display specific features and capabilities of the community or group. Understanding these capabilities and features are fundamental to building sustainable economic, social and learning networks systems. Understanding emergent behaviour within and beyond organizational communities requires understanding the social or sociological aspects in relation to the explicit formal/physical structures in the organization. Looking deeper into the development of informal networks across boundaries highlights the geographic structures and scales of knowledge flows and their influence on urban communities. Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to examine the theory of knowledge networks through applied research Design/methodology/approach – This is a case study approach, incorporating action research through embedded practice, utilizing interdisciplinary (or rather non-disciplinary) techniques and is thus a novel approach and application. Originality/value –This methodology translation of knowledge networks from theory into practice to yield little known or understood technical issues when working in social complex adaptive systems. Practical implications – The outcomes of the application contributes to the understanding of how, what and why sustainable social networks develop, offering the possibility of application in the field.


Posted in Informal knowledge networks, Networks, Tacit knowledge | Tagged , ,

Building Knowledge Sharing Communities

It is difficult for organizations to effectively manage personal knowledge so it can be mobilized, shared, and rewarded to benefit the organization. The difficulties are compounded in large organizations where people with potentially valuable knowledge are unknown to one another and dispersed geographically. Issues that are potentially amenable to management include identification, indexing and codification of the knowledge held in people’s heads, and the cultural issues of discovery, mutual trust and sharing at the personal level. A large engineering and project management organization (“EPMO”) has prototyped a methodology to graphically codify, index and map staff knowledge using mind mapping technologies. Not only does the methodology provide a graphical structure making it easy for staff to determine who is likely to posses the kind of knowledge they need to find, but interview process is an important facilitator to precondition the knowledge bearers for sharing, and the content of the resulting maps tends to present the knowledge bearers in a more humanized way.


Posted in Community of practice, Emergence, Knowledge management, Mind mapping, Tacit knowledge | Tagged , , , ,

Emerging Autopoietic Communities – Scalability of Knowledge Transfer in Complex Systems

Knowledge-based communities are important but poorly understood systems for helping enterprises maintain their organizational integrity and address organizational imperatives. Based on an autopoietic theory of organization, we examine the emergence and development of knowledge-based communities at different scales up to large distributed enterprises and industry clusters. Knowledge-based communities are highly complex systems that evolve and mature through the phased emergence of new features and capabilities. Development and support of successfully sustainable communities needs to be based on a better understanding of how these features and capabilities emerge. To comprehend the impact of emergent behavior within and beyond organizational communities requires an understanding of the social or sociological aspects of a system in relation to the explicit formal/physical structures in the organization.


Posted in Autopoiesis, Community of practice, Complexity, Knowledge management, Organizations | Tagged , , , ,

Autopoiesis and Knowledge in Self-Sustaining Organizational Systems

Knowledge and the communication of knowledge are critical for self-sustaining organizations comprised of people and the tools and machines that extend peoples’ physical and cognitive capacities. Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela proposed the concept of autopoiesis (“self” “production”) as a definition of life in the 1970s. Nicklas Luhmann extended this concept to establish a theory of social systems, where intangible human social systems were formed by recursive networks of communications. We show here that Luhmann fundamentally misunderstood Maturana and Varela’s autopoiesis by thinking that the self-observation necessary for self-maintenance formed a paradoxically vicious circle. Luhmann tried to resolve this apparent paradox by placing the communication networks on an imaginary plane orthogonal to the networked people. However, Karl Popper’s evolutionary epistemology and the theory of hierarchically complex systems turns what Luhmann thought was a vicious circle into a virtuous spiral of organizational learning and knowledge. There is no closed circle that needs to be explained via Luhmann’s extraordinarily paradoxical linguistic contortions.


Posted in Autopoiesis, Knowledge, Organizations | Tagged , ,

A Biological Theory of Knowledge and Applications to Real World Organizations

This paper extends an epistemologically grounded biological theory of organization and knowledge based on Karl Popper’s evolutionary epistemology and three worlds ontology, amalgamating concepts from evolutionary biology, emergence and hierarchy theory, autopoiesis, and military affairs. We discuss how this body of theory is being used to guide and inform KM research and development in a geographically extended industrial and project management organization. Applicability of the biological and epistemological framework is demonstrated in a study of the emergence and sustainment of communities of practice, in the development of a methodology for improving business processes, and in the implementation of managing engineering knowledge over the lifecycles of fleets of ships and vehicles.


Posted in Biology, Knowledge, Organizations | Tagged , ,