alexa Invitation to Information Sociology

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Invitation to Information Sociology

The concept of ‘information’ is probably too vague and informal for philosophical pondering. But sociologists are not essentialists, and it is the diverse use of the word in multiple contexts that allows us to glimpse into its pervasiveness in the moving-on (Wittgenstein 1953) of everyday life and academic discussions. In this paper I thus present this diversity through an investigation of the characteristic forms of informational interactions at four different analytical levels, starting from the societal and ending at the interpersonal. Information is indeed a broad concept. It occupies the fuzzy region between data and knowledge in terms of meaningfulness (Ackoff 1989). Information theory extends it down to data (Shannon 1948), while Lyotard (1979) stretches it up to occupy at least a problematic slice of knowledge. The optimistic renaming of information society to knowledge society, however, does not readily create knowledge, and the legitimate / tolerated use of information is defined historically – by ideologies before information society has come into existence. It is therefore natural for our journey of the sociological understanding of information to start at the societal level.

 
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