Is knowledge also power?

In his review of Knowledge Power (Alan Wilson, Routledge, 2010), Jon Nixon says that this book is ‘based on the questionable but unquestioned assumption that “we live at the centre of a knowledge explosion” and that “knowledge is now the key capital resource”: hence, the conjunction of “knowledge” and “power” in the book’s title.

Nixon is right to question the assumption that ‘we live at the centre of a knowledge explosion’; perhaps the centrality of knowledge is more true for some than for others. And for the same reason the assertion that knowledge is now the ‘key capital resource’ may also require further examination.

Invisible, so unchallenged?
Could it be that knowledge is power precisely because it is often invisible – and the moreso, the more complex and interwoven it becomes?

Do some of the most significant aspects of ‘knowledge as power’ remain unarticulated in general discourse? Is this because they are too difficult to transmit easily to a wider audience, or because there is no great incentive for those who have the knowledge actually to share it?

For instance: would it be in investors’ interests for the activities of the stock market to be more widely understood? Are there other significant examples of this sort?

Capital resources
Are there many for whom knowledge is not a matter of ‘capital resource’, for the very basic reason that they don’t know in any cogent way that it exists.

Is the issue of knowledge and power at base sociological? about who chooses to share it, rather than simply who can make the effort to access it?

* Is there enough common ground, when it comes to knowledge, between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, to enable greater equity of power?

* Assuming a degree of equity is required for sustainable societies, is it important to share knowledge about, say, science or social policy, in the same way that, e.g., knowledge about financial advantage might be shared?

* How can this come about? Where do such knowledge conversations need to start, and by whom might they be led?

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Posted on November 8, 2010, in Questions and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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