A Normative Theory of the Information Society (Hardback) book cover

A Normative Theory of the Information Society

By Alistair S. Duff

© 2012 – Routledge

158 pages

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There is a clear need for a systematic, integrative, and rigorous normative theory of the information society. In this book, Duff offers a prescriptive theory to help to guide the academic and policy communities as they debate the future shape of emerging post-industrial, information-based societies. He argues that information policy needs to become anchored in a left-liberal philosophy which foregrounds a feasible permutation of the core ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood. The information society, if it is to be worth having at all, cannot be allowed to be largely the outcome of the free play of market forces and technological determinism. The social structure, including the information economy, must be subjected to a regulatory axiological system as explicated by some leading proponents of social democracy. This text will be of interest to scholars and students at the cutting edge of information studies, journalism and media, computer science, sociology, politics, philosophy, management and law.


"Duff’s book would be an excellent companion to an undergraduate or introductory graduate course on information technology [and] would be of interest to most social scientists engaged with the topics of information media and technological change."Contemporary Sociology

"Alastair Duff has written an ambitious, exciting and important book. It is a text that deserves to be widely read…"Prof. Jan Nolin, Swedish School of Library and Information Sciencer, University of Borås,in Information Research

"This is a fascinating, complex, concise and wideranging exploration of what the author labels the ‘normative crisis of the information society’." Richard Lance Keeble, University of Lincoln, in Ethical Space

"…a welcome addition on the subject…"Richard D. Taylor, Pennsylvania State University in Journal of Information Policy

"…as a piece of academic analysis this is a well-sourced and well-argued study which balances an awareness of continuing debates about the information society, with an impatience to develop a normative approach that can be deployed in the real politics of the information age." Christopher May, Lancaster University, in European Journal of Communication

"…the book is well-structured and makes its case clearly. It represents a strong argument for an ethical and normative theory of the information society. Recent events (e.g. the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, the press and democracy in the UK, and Wikileaks’ and Edwards Snowden’s revelations about state surveillance) show us the importance of the subject which Duff addresses. His is an important contribution— and from a leading scholar of the information society."— Hugh Mackay, Ethics and Information Technology

Table of Contents

1. The Need for a Normative Theory of the Information Society 2. Reloading Social Democracy: A Rawls-Tawney Synthesis 3. On the Social Distribution of Information and News 4. Social Engineering, Industrial and Post-Industrial

About the Author

Dr. Alistair Duff is reader in information and journalism at Edinburgh Napier University and a member of its Centre for Social Informatics. With a multidisciplinary background, he has published in a wide range of media on the social role of information. His monograph Information Society Studies was published in 2000 by Routledge.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Information Technology and Society

The planet is being transformed by technical change and in particular by the speed of development in information technology. This series brings together the latest research on the social impact of IT and seeks to provide a broad range of case studies and comparative analysis of this phenomena and how it is changing our lives.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Information Technology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies