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The Information Society: A Sceptical View Hardcover – 4 May 2002


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"A powerful analysis of our contemporary world which systematically debunks the hyperbolic and deterministic claims that are endlessly repeated about the role of new technologies in society . . . With candour and clarity, and through the use of examples, May provides alternative interpretations by analysing the complex realities of contemporary change." Stephen Graham, University of Newcastle–upon–Tyne "A very engaging, even pungent, and highly accessible book. It will be a very useful student text for those who are willing to be challenged in their thinking about "the information society"." Frank Webster, University of Birmingham "It′s refreshing to read an argument that is sceptical about the wider claim being made for digital technologies but which also acknowledges the new centrality of the collection, production and dissemination of information to our economy and culture. The Information Society [ital] is a sober audit of the real state of play, and a convincing retort to those who argue digitalisation will undermine all previous power structures, rendering the state and old forms of work obsolete." Tribune "This book offers a clear overview of the developments of ICTs and their impact on society...It is a substantial text that provides a different and thought–provoking viewpoint. It will find its way onto the shelves of academic and public libraries, as well as the personal libraries of many professionals with an interest in the information society." Managing Information "It is highly recommended for anyone who has felt uneasy about the hype which has been generated about "the Information Society" and the "Knowledge Economy", and on a broader plan, for anyone who is concerned with social change." Martin Ward, E.Learning Age

From the Back Cover

In this timely new book, Christopher May surveys some of the most influential and important writings that declare we are entering a new information age. It is frequently asserted that this will bring about a social transformation and that the character of work is being transformed by the widespread deployment of information and communication technologies. In a similar manner we are told the world of politics is changing, with new communities emerging which will alter the practices of politics in profound and novel ways, and which will significantly reduce the role of the state and government. Each of these claims is subjected to a detailed critique. Christopher May suggests that while there have clearly been some major and important changes prompted by the information technology revolution, these are often changes only in the forms of activity and not their substance. The information age represents some marked and important continuities with previous social practices, rather than the overthrow of all that has gone before. This sceptical view balances and moderates the often hysterical celebration of the new information society – a celebration which, the author argues, often lapses into an apologia for modern capitalism. The Information Society will be of particular interest to students in sociology, politics, political economy, media and cultural studies and information studies.

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It will not have escaped your notice that there are many people who claim we have entered a new age, governed by a 'new paradigm' where society and its economic relations are no longer primarily organized on the basis of material goods. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
counteracts a lot of hype 22 Sept. 2005
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
May supplies a logical and sceptical analysis of advances in information technology (IT), where these often have been accompanied by breathless claims of generating big societal changes. He correctly distinguishes between new technology that causes existing social interactions to be more efficient or faster, and those that make truly new social mores. For the latter, he suggests that biotechnology may ultimately fall in this category. Its potential for life saving or life extending advances may cause far reaching social upheaval.

His views are a good counterpoint to much hype about technology. Naturally, he cannot resist remarking on the Y2K imbroglio. How this was largely puffed up in an echo of the dot com and telco zeitgeist. A fairy tale of its times.

The book is useful in giving you a more nuanced perspective on technological change. It even dares suggest that earlier times experienced more fundamental changes!
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