Knowledge in Society 3 (3):19-27 (1990)

Knowledge systems theory, in our view, tends to obscure rather than illuminate an understanding of the fundamentals of knowledge processes in society. This tendency occurs primarily because both the theory, and the methodologies that are derived from it, fail to recognize that knowledge processes are social processes, and thereby that knowledge itself has to be envisaged as a social construction. As a result of this omission, knowledge systems theory and methodology can only deal poorly with issues of power and social conflict, and, at the same time, tend to make use of several inappropriate teleological and reifying notions. According to our view, the understanding of knowledge processes will benefit greatly from a more actor-oriented perspective. In such an approach, emphasis is accorded to human agency and the concept of multiple knowledge networks. Central purposes of actor-oriented methodologies then, are to clarify how actors attempt to create space for their own ‘projects’ and to determine which elements contribute to or impede the successful creation of such space for maneuver
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