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How are changes in knowledge connected to social change

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Introduction

How are changes in knowledge connected to social change? This essay will explore the definition of the word knowledge, the diversity of different forms of knowledge, and how advances in technological knowledge has brought about many changes in our daily lives and how old orthodoxies are being challenged bringing about social changes in today's world. It will also look at the connection between two different social science theories - the 'knowledge society' and the 'risk society' and identify their strengths or weaknesses. What exactly is meant by the word 'knowledge'? It, without doubt comes in different forms. There are different types of knowledge such as practical knowledge, institutional knowledge, common-sense knowledge and expert knowledge. There are specific areas of knowledge covering subjects such as medicine, religion and politics. Knowledge includes ways of thinking, different ideas, theories and explanations. Expert knowledge has authority and a great deal of power attached to it, it is different to and much more than simply personal knowledge - i.e. personally knowing a lot about a particular subject - it is socially sanctioned in a way that personal knowledge is not. There are different types of expert knowledge, for example, medical, religious, political, environmental and this expert knowledge is usually attached to an institution or authoritative body. For example we trust doctors because of their status as experts and they have become experts through years of training and the qualifications they've obtained which is backed by the authority of professional associations. ...read more.

Middle

Secondly, the significant changes in the way in which knowledge is stored, produced and distributed. With the internet we are no longer limited to a book anymore so access to knowledge is simpler and easier to be much more widely distributed and this has had a massive impact on people's daily lives. On a daily basis we are inundated with information about every aspect of our lives, everything and anything from what we should eat to where we should invest to what colour we should paint our houses and this in itself has created a whole range of 'experts' who advise us on aspects of our lives. But what constitutes being an 'expert'? In today's society it seems you only have to be famous to have authority on a subject which is usually unrelated to the reason for being famous! Such an explanation does tend to be attractive in terms of its empirical adequacy. Advances in technology (which is as a result of new knowledge) has resulted in a major shift in the way we work - jobs now require new skills that did not exist fifty years ago - for example computer literacy - and many jobs such as coal mining have completely disappeared. Furthermore, automization has meant fewer people are employed in manual jobs but has meant an increased production of goods due to better efficiency. ...read more.

Conclusion

Knowledge has always been important but changing times means changing knowledge and changing knowledge means changing times! It difficult to establish which is cause and effect but in previous societies knowledge seemed to be based on more established knowledge and was much more limited whereas in contemporary society priority has been given to new knowledge. The sheer explosion of knowledge in new technologies has undoubtedly been responsible for change and development in ways of thinking, ideas and practices within economic, social, cultural and political life - it is clear that we have to move with the times or risk being left behind and this means adapting the way we live our daily lives because of the introduction of new knowledge. So to conclude, in the 21st century we have access to a plethora of information, much more instantaneously, we demand and are subjected to countless choices, we have to learn new technical skills and knowledge to be able to remain in the workplace and we have to adapt to a world which is becoming 'global' rather than 'local'. These changes in our social behaviour have come about because of increased knowledge (be it mainly technological knowledge) although to what extent these changes have changed our lives is another issue! There is no doubt, however, that changes in knowledge systems and social changes are directly correlated and although this knowledge revolution may be open to different interpretations, it is undisputed that it has revolutionized many aspects of economic and social life. ...read more.

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