Theories of the Information Society: 4th Edition (Paperback) book cover

Theories of the Information Society

4th Edition

By Frank Webster


404 pages

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Information is regarded as a distinguishing feature of our world. Where once economies were built on industry and conquest, we are now part of a global information economy. Pervasive media, expanding information occupations and the development of the internet convince many that living in an Information Society is the destiny of us all. Coping in an era of information flows, of virtual relationships and breakneck change poses challenges to one and all.

In Theories of the Information Society Frank Webster sets out to make sense of the information explosion, taking a sceptical look at what thinkers mean when they refer to the Information Society, and critically examining the major post-war approaches to informational development. The fourth edition of this classic study brings it up to date with new research and with social and technological changes – from the ‘Twitter Revolutions’ of North Africa, to financial crises that introduced the worst recession in a life time, to the emergence of social media and blogging – and reassesses the work of key theorists in the light of these changes.

More outspoken than in previous editions, Webster urges abandonment of Information Society scenarios, preferring analysis of the informatization of long-established relationships. This interdisciplinary book is essential reading for those trying to make sense of social and technological change in the post-war era. It addresses issues of central concern to students of sociology, politics, geography, communications, information science, cultural studies, computing and librarianship.


"For those who spend the time, the wealth of material can help them understand how information is shaping, in [Webster's] view, capitalistic democracy. Fortunately, his style is easily accessible…"— Tom Warren, STC, Technical Communication

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Definitions 3. Quality 4. Post-Industrial Society: Daniel Bell 5. Regulation School 6. Network Society: Manuel Castells 7. Mobilities 8. Information and the Market System: Herbert Schiller 9. Information and Democracy 1: Jürgen Habermas, the Public Sphere and Public Service Institutions 10. Information and Democracy 2: Friedrich Hayek and the neo-Hayekians 11. Information, Reflexivity and Surveillance: Anthony Giddens 12. Information and Postmodernity 13. Beyond the Information Society. Bibliography

About the Author

Frank Webster has been Professor of Sociology at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Birmingham and City University London.

About the Series

International Library of Sociology

The International Library of Sociology (ILS) is the most important series of books on sociology ever published. Founded in the 1940s by Karl Mannheim, the series became the forum for pioneering research and theory, marked by comparative approaches and the identification of new directions in sociology, publishing major figures in Anglo-American and European sociology, from Durkheim and Weber to Parsons and Gouldner, and from Ossowski and Klein to Jasanoff and Walby.

Its new editors, John Holmwood (University of Nottingham, UK) and Vineeta Sinha (National University of Singapore), plan to develop the series as a truly global project, reflecting new directions and contributions outside its traditional centres, and connecting with the original aim of the series to produce sociological knowledge that addresses pressing global social problems and supports democratic debate.

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Subject Categories

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