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Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism

Creativity and the Promise of Openness


Michael A. Peters

We live in the age of global science – but not, primarily, in the sense of ‘universal knowledge’ that has characterized the liberal metanarrative of ‘free’ science and the ‘free society’ since its early development in the Enlightenment. Today, an economic logic links science to national economic policy, while globalized multinational science dominates an environment where quality assurance replaces truth as the new regulative ideal. This book examines the nature of educational and science-based capitalism in its cybernetic, knowledge, algorithmic and bioinformational forms before turning to the emergence of the global science system and the promise of openness in the growth of international research collaboration, the development of the global knowledge commons and the rise of the open science economy. Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism explores the nature of cognitive capitalism, the emerging mode of social production for public education and science and its promise for the democratization of knowledge.
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Chapter Nine: ‘Knowledge Economy,’ Economic Crisis and Cognitive Capitalism: Public Education and the Promise of Open Science


Chapter 9

‘Knowledge Economy,’ Economic Crisis and Cognitive Capitalism

In a recent paper, ‘Forms of Knowledge Economy: Learning, Creativity, Openness’, I identified three discernibly separate but interrelated developmental strands of the ‘knowledge economy’ based around the notions of (1) The Learning Economy, based on the work of Bengt-Åke Lundvall; (2) The Creative Economy, based on the work of Charles Landry, John Howkins and Richard Florida; (3) The Open Science Economy, based on recent technological developments in promoting the openness of scientific communication (Peters, 2010a).1 This conception has been part of an ongoing engagement with the discourse of the knowledge economy that views it as a structural transformation of western capitalism, a third stage of development after mercantile capitalism, a doctrine that characterizing the period 1500–1800 based on the the premise that national wealth and power were best served by increasing exports and collecting precious metals in return (Coleman, 1969; Miller, 1988), and industrial capitalism, that replaced the replaced the merchant as a dominant actor in the capitalist system with the industrialist and established a factory system of manufacturing based on a complex division of labor. David Hume and Adam Smith were among a new group of economic theorists that questioned the fundamental mercantile belief that the amount of the world’s wealth remained constant and that a state could only increase its wealth at the expense of another state. Knowledge capitalism, by contrast, is another transformation of capitalism. The term ‘knowledge capitalism’ emerged...

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