A sociolinguistic approach to applied epistemology: Examining technocratic values in global 'knowledge' policy
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Social Epistemology 15 (3):155-169 (2001)
This special issue presents an excellent opportunity to study applied epistemology in public policy. This is an important task because the arena of public policy is the social domain in which macro conditions for ‘knowledge work’ and ‘knowledge industries’ are defined and created. We argue that knowledge-related public policy has become overly concerned with creating the politico-economic parameters for the commodification of knowledge. Our policy scope is broader than that of Fuller (1988), who emphasizes the need for a social epistemology of science policy. We extend our focus to a range of policy documents that include communications, science, education and innovation policy (collectively called knowledge-related public policy in acknowledgement of the fact that there is no defined policy silo called ‘knowledge policy’), all of which are central to policy concerned with the ‘knowledge economy’ (Rooney and Mandeville, 1998). However, what we will show here is that, as Fuller (1995) argues, ‘knowledge societies’ are not industrial societies permeated by knowledge, but that knowledge societies are permeated by industrial values. Our analysis is informed by an autopoietic perspective. Methodologically, we approach it from a sociolinguistic position that acknowledges the centrality of language to human societies (Graham, 2000). Here, what we call ‘knowledge’ is posited as a social and cognitive relationship between persons operating on and within multiple social and non-social (or, crudely, ‘physical’) environments. Moreover, knowing, we argue, is a sociolinguistically constituted process. Further, we emphasize that the evaluative dimension of language is most salient for analysing contemporary policy discourses about the commercialization of epistemology (Graham, in press). Finally, we provide a discourse analysis of a sample of exemplary texts drawn from a 1.3 million-word corpus of knowledge-related public policy documents that we compiled from local, state, national and supranational legislatures throughout the industrialized world. Our analysis exemplifies a propensity in policy for resorting to technocratic, instrumentalist and anti-intellectual views of knowledge in policy. We argue that what underpins these patterns is a commodity-based conceptualization of knowledge, which is underpinned by an axiology of narrowly economic imperatives at odds with the very nature of knowledge. The commodity view of knowledge, therefore, is flawed in its ignorance of the social systemic properties of ��knowing’
|Keywords||400104 Communication and Media Studies 729901 Technological and organisational innovation C1|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Humberto R. Maturana & Francisco G. Varela (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition the Realization of the Living.
S. Fuller (1991). Social Epistemology. Noûs 25 (5):732-733.
John Ralston Saul (1992/1993). Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West. Vintage Books.
N. Luhmann, John Bednarz & Dirk Baecker (1998). Social Systems. Human Studies 21 (2):227-234.
John Ralston Saul (1995). The Unconscious Civilization. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Citations of this work BETA
David Rooney & Bernard McKenna (2007). Wisdom in Organizations: Whence and Whither. Social Epistemology 21 (2):113 – 138.
Similar books and articles
Philip Graham & David Rooney (2001). A Sociolinguistic Approach to Applied Epistemology: Examining Technocratic Values in Global 'Knowledge' Policy. Social Epistemology 15 (3):155-169.
Olena Hankivsky (2006). Imagining Ethical Globalization: The Contributions of a Care Ethic. Journal of Global Ethics 2 (1):91 – 110.
Asunción Lera St Clair (2007). A Methodologically Pragmatist Approach to Development Ethics. Journal of Global Ethics 3 (2):143-164.
Emery M. Roe (1992). Global Warming as Analytic Tip. Critical Review 6 (2-3):411-427.
Joseph Rouse (1991). Policing Knowledge: Disembodied Policy for Embodied Knowledge. Inquiry 34 (3 & 4):353 – 364.
Huei-Chun Su (2012). Beyond the Positive–Normative Dichotomy: Some Remarks on Colander'sLost Art of Economics. Journal of Economic Methodology 19 (4):375-390.
Heidi E. Grasswick (2001). The Normative Failure of Fuller's Social Epistemology. Social Epistemology 16 (2):133 – 148.
Ben Hale (2011). The Methods of Applied Philosophy and the Tools of the Policy Sciences. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):215-232.
Matjaž Potrč & Vojko Strahovnik (2006). Justification in Context. Acta Analytica 20 (9):91-104.
Jonathan L. Kvanvig (2003). The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding. Cambridge University Press.
Nigel Dower (2005). The Nature and Scope of Global Ethics and the Relevance of the Earth Charter. Journal of Global Ethics 1 (1):25 – 43.
John W. Lango (2009). Global Policy and the United Nations. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (1):105-115.
Alan R. Drengson (1980). Shifting Paradigms: From the Technocratic to the Person-Planetary. Environmental Ethics 2 (3):221-240.
Added to index2010-09-02
Total downloads2 ( #659,109 of 1,790,292 )
Recent downloads (6 months)0
How can I increase my downloads?