Social surveillance and regulation of knowledge will be one of the most important issues in the near future, and one that will give rise to unending controversy. Stehr predicts such concerns will give rise to a new political field, namely knowledge policy. Conventional research policy concerns itself, more or less successfully, with regulating the production of knowledge. Knowledge policy, however, will entail regulating dissemination of the anticipated results of rapidly increasing knowledge. Knowledge policies will embrace the most diverse kinds of informal and formal actions. Their aim will be to limit, direct into certain paths, or forbid the application and further development of knowledge. The cause and trigger of such measures is the anticipation of foreseeable consequences of certain findings. Regulation is achieved by means of moral pressure, monitoring and testing institutions, reference to dominant values, legal restrictions on the dissemination of knowledge and, not least, by means of bans. Headlines like "We know too much," or "Not everything that we know ought to be put into practice," form the background for increasingly urgent demands for the regulation of knowledge in modern societies.
The number and range of institutionalized standards for monitoring new knowledge has hitherto been relatively small. There are, for example, only a few legal regulations concerned with the preservation of human nature. Only in cases of technological applications has social control, in the form of political regulation, so far intervened. All modern societies today have complex regulations and extensive concerns with the registration, licensing, testing and monitoring of pharmaceutical products. The increasingly important and extensive area of intellectual property legislation and administration is an example of social control in which certain measures selectively determine the use of scientific finds and technical knowledge. These control measures are a legacy of industrial society, going back to both the Paris Patent Protection Agreement of 1883 and the Bern Copyright Convention of 1886.
The Governance of Knowledge assembles a range of essays that attempt to explore the new field of knowledge politics for the first time. It is divided into four parts:
- The Emergence of Knowledge Politics: Origins, Context, and Consequences;
- Major Social Institutions and Knowledge Politics;
- Case Studies on the Governance of Knowledge;
- and Issues in Knowledge Politics as a New Political Field.
Individual chapters concern the emergence of knowledge policy, the embeddedness of such regulations in major social institutions, and offer case studies of the governance of knowledge and discuss controversial issues that are bound to accompany efforts to regulate new knowledge.
Contributors include: Steve Fuller, Gernot Böhme, Stephen Turner, Wolfgang van den Daele, Werner Rammert, William Leiss, Lawrence Lessig, Troy Duster, Jeffrey Klein, Kevin Jones, Javier Lezaun, Endré Kiss, Martin Schulte, Rogers Hollingsworth, and Reiner Grundmann.
Nico Stehr (editor):
The Governance of Knowledge. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books, 310 Pages, ISBN 0-7658-0172-8, Price: $49,95
Contents here Preface here