Knowledge Society in Lithuania

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2010

11 Pages, Grade: A

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Knowledge Society is a widely spread concept, which is used more and more in an everyday life and scientific research. There are many different opinions regarding the emergence of the knowledge society in a nowadays world. In this paper I will investigate empirical evidences for the emergence and the non-emergence of the knowledge society in Lithuania.

In the first part of the paper I will define the term “Knowledge Society”, show its reliance on terms “knowledge” and “information”, and its difference from “Information Society”. In the second part of the paper I will describe the indicators and measures of the knowledge society. Later I will provide some empirical evidences for the emergence and the non-emergence of the knowledge society in Lithuania. In the last part of the paper I will provide the concluded personal opinion, based upon described evidences.

Definition of Knowledge Society

In this section I’ll define the term “Knowledge Society” and other closely related and often used terms.

In his book, Information Science – an integrated view , Debons (1988) interprets the information’s phenomenon like “information as knowledge”. In this context Debons (1988) refers to information as a person’s intellectual capability to draw conclusions. Knowledge, according to Debons (1988), must be deduced, not simply sensed, differently from information. From the other hand, this definition shows that information and knowledge are closely related. I agree with such a view and later in this paper I’ll show the relationship both between information and knowledge and between information society and knowledge society.

Knowledge society is a widely used term today, but it is not so easy to find a clear definition of it.

One of the first definitions was given by Bell (1974), who described the knowledge society as the one that uses knowledge for direct change and innovation.

About ten years later Yoneji Mashuda (1983) introduced the concept of the information society, to replace the concept of the post-industrial society. For Mashuda, the information society is the highest form of the welfare society, and one in which intellectual creativity flourishes instead of industrial consumption.

Miller (2002) tried to explain the knowledge society as empowering its citizens with a capacity for intellectual or physical action. I partially agree with such a definition, but in my opinion, it is very important to emphasize the value of “for intellectual or physical action”. In my opinion, knowledge society leads to development, and development is understood only as a positive valuable change, not just any action.

In the Ministry’s of Economic Development (2010) of New Zeeland I found the following definition of knowledge society: “the term Knowledge Society refers to any society where knowledge is the primary production resource instead of capital and labour. A Knowledge society creates, shares and uses knowledge for the prosperity and well-being of its people".

Explaining the knowledge society’s establishment process, Michael Paetau (2003) noticed, that “social knowledge cannot have any meaning other than that of the construction of a recursive network of autonomous systems each of which has its own modes and results of observation. Only via such a network can the world observe itself and learn to know what it knows”.

Some authors (Sally Burch, 2006) point out, that “the notion “knowledge society” emerged toward the end of the 90s and is particularly used as an alternative by some in academic circles to the “information society”.

Terms “Knowledge society” and “Information society” are often used interchangeably, as synonyms, and mean the same for some authors (Lor & Britz, 2007). I don’t agree with such a simplification, as there is a difference between these two societies, and the difference is very close to the one between information and knowledge. That picture below presents this difference in a very clear way:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Picture 1. Data, information and knowledge (Source: Spiegler, 2003:534)

Still, information and knowledge societies resemble in a way, that they are both post-industrial societies. The industrial society nowadays is losing its dominance, the importance of information in growing, and the new kind of society is under development. Kauppinen (2005) explains, that “the world is moving more towards the knowledge society where knowledge is becoming the dominant driver of change. This change can be described and symbolised by the growing importance of mental capacity, unlike the industrial society where the physical capacity of workers was more important and where the thinking was done by people in management and planning positions”.

Below is a very clear scheme which shows the knowledge society as a one, overwhelming a lot of different new-type societies – learning society, network society, information society etc.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Picture 2. Old societies and emerging new societies. (Source: Kauppinen, T., 2005. The ‘puzzle’ of the knowledge society. In: Irish Presidency, Conference ‘Foresight for innovations – thinking and debating the future: Shaping and aligning policies’. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions)

Most definitely, skills formation is an essential feature of all future societies. Many authors agree, that people learn from changes just by participating in learning processes and their implementation (Ranson, 1998; Coffield, 2000). All kinds of future societies are based on the development of new technologies. Information is another key concept related to all future models of the post-industrial societies.

Indicators and Measures of Knowledge Society

In this section I will describe different measures and indicators, which are usually used for valuing the knowledge society. Some of them will be used later in this paper as evidences of the emergence of the knowledge society in Lithuania, and the others will be used for the opposite task, as evidences of the non-emergence of the knowledge society.

Euforia project reports (2003,2004) define the indicators, essential for advancement towards the knowledge society, as follows:

- self-directed learning, i.e. learning that people use by themselves when they want to learn something new;
- use of online e-learning for work-related learning;
- use of e-learning for work-related training;
- participation in work-related training, which is provided by the employer. (The ‘puzzle’ of the knowledge society, Paper presented at the Irish Presidency Conference ‘Foresight for innovations – thinking and debating the future: Shaping and aligning policies’, 2004).

Mika Naumanen (2003) has built a conceptual model of a knowledge society, which can be used as a knowledge society barometer. The knowledge society would include components like application of ICT as well as impacts of research and development (R&D). The final purpose, according to Naumanen (2003) is to enhance value for the citizens and this can be seen in measures like entrepreneurship, innovation, environmental awareness, and also in the development of values.

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions defined the following measures as important for valuing knowledge society:

- Home Internet access
- Internet use in the population
- Cellular phone subscribers
- Internet in schools
- Workers who use computers for work
- Internet dial-up access costs (residential)
- Internet dial-up access costs (business)
- ADSL prices
- Home ADSL access
- Availability of government services online
- eCommerce via Internet

Some authors focused not on quantitative measures, described above, but more on qualitative indicators, such as moral and ethical dimensions of future societies. This focus has resulted in the emergence of a special school of ‘risk society’ thinkers (Ulrich Beck, 1999). According to Ulrich Beck’s (1999) hypothesis, there is a possibility that a totally new society will emerge, which will be guided by new rules unlike those of the industrial society. It will not be a knowledge society, but a so called “risk society”. This society’s rules could contain unmanageable technology, unsustainable use of nature, disease, lack of equal opportunities, genetic technology, wars and terrorism. It’s a pessimistic view, which can be called anti-utopia, but it is possible in reality. Although I see a lot of signs that prove such a possibility, I still hope that the humanity will be able to avoid the negative consequences and will be able to make a positive use of the knowledge it has accumulated through ages.

11 of 11 pages


Knowledge Society in Lithuania
Blekinge Institute of Technology
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Knowledge, Society, Lithuania
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MSc Jekaterina Novikova (Author), 2010, Knowledge Society in Lithuania, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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