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MANIPULATION, ARTIFICIAL MEANS, AND EDUCATION - page 21 / 42

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ECONOMY, WORK AND EDUCATION

Prof. Guglielmo Malizia

Teacher of the Sociology of Education, Salesian Pontifical University, Rome

1.

The Knowledge Society, the Economy and Labour

During the last decade, Information Technology and Telematics have brought about a radical transition towards new forms of social life and social organization that have induced people to speak about a new society, the “knowledge society”.

1.1

Changes at the economic and structural level

To put it concisely there has been a transition from an industrial to a post-industrial economic model. Whereas the former put the emphasis on a quantitative concept of growth (“getting the most out of the most”), on production volume, on a linear, atomistic, hierarchical, dualistic and manipulative view of labour and of how it is organized; the latter underscores the quality and intensity of development (“getting the most out of the least”), the value of production, the symbolic, interactive, contextual, participatory, autonomous and intellectual nature of work and of its structuring. The corporate universe is made up of small and flexible companies, that are markedly dynamic as a result of “knowledge” viewed as a resource or asset, capable of producing a wide range of goods and services that are very often intangible.

The disadvantage is that the large companies are sizing down their activities: the basic production functions are preserved, while the support services are outsourced to firms or individuals; by adopting this approach big industry has managed to cut back on its labour force in a very dramatic manner at times. The transition to the post industrial era is accompanied also by the deregulation of labour and by an increase in the number of precarious jobs which question the traditional system of social relations. At the same time globalization and computerization contribute to increasing unemployment and under-employment which, unlike what happened in the first and the second industrial revolutions, can no longer be entirely absorbed by the emerging sectors (the quaternary). As a consequence, our social systems are unable to ensure that everyone has an equitable access to prosperity, to democratic decision-making structures and to personal socio-cultural development.

1.2

Young People, Education and Employment

Today young people live in a condition characterized by a lack of hope which was unknown in previous historic periods: the type of hope that is nurtured by some myths.

a.The Myth of Technology

This can be summarized as: anything that can be done needs to be done. In order to fully capture the sense of this statement we can refer to the problem of choosing. When choosing consists in deciding from among alternative means for reaching a certain aim and when the question that awaits an answer is of the “what do I do in

The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments

Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004

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