Knowledge Cultures

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"Knowledge cultures is a fundamental concept that Peters, Besley and others developed in opposition to the dualism of the knowledge economy and knowledge society, and they fleshed out a critical concept that carried normative content by focusing on epistemological notion of ‘the community of inquiry’ drawing from Wittgenstein, Dewey and Pierce that also implied an ethics of sharing and collaboration. These philosophers provided the resources for a social reading of knowledge that was consistent with Marxist reading of knowledge as being based in a set of social relations. The pragmatist emphasis of the ‘community of inquiry’ and especially Pierce’s epistemology seems to provide a warrant for investigating ‘knowledge socialism’ as a historical program." (


by Michael A. Peters et al. :

"In Building Knowledge Cultures: Education and Development in the Age of Knowledge Capitalism, Peters and Besley (2006) developed the notion of ‘knowledge cultures’ as a basis for understanding the possibilities of education and development in the age of knowledge capitalism. ‘Knowledge cultures,’ they argued, refers to the cultural preconditions in the new production of knowledge and their basis in shared practices, embodying preferred ways of doing things often developed over many generations. These practices also point to the way in which cultures have different repertoires of representational and non-representational forms of knowing. In the book, they discuss knowledge cultures in relation to claims for the new economy, as well as cultural economy and the politics of postmodernity. The book focuses on national policy constructions of the knowledge economy, ‘fast knowledge’ and the role of the so-called new pedagogy and social learning under these conditions. In that book, they included a postscript ‘freedom and knowledge cultures’ commenting on the shift from a metaphysics of production to one of the consumptions and the emergence of a knowledge global commons as the basis for a global civil society as yet unborn. Here, they were attempting to realize in outline the development of knowledge cultures based on non-proprietary modes of production and exchange.

Somewhat later, Michael Peters tried to work up this idea in terms of the promise of creativity giving the concept a reading by reference to emerging form of openness in a book called Knowledge, Science and Knowledge Capitalism:

We live in the age of global science – but not, primarily, in the sense of ‘universal knowledge’ that has characterized the liberal metanarrative of ‘free’ science and the ‘free society’ since its early development in the Enlightenment. Today, an economic logic links science to national economic policy, while globalized multinational science dominates an environment where quality assurance replaces truth as the new regulative ideal. This book examines the nature of educational and science-based capitalism in its cybernetic, knowledge, algorithmic and bioinformational forms before turning to the emergence of the global science system and the promise of openness in the growth of international research collaboration, the development of the global knowledge commons and the rise of the open science economy. Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism explores the nature of cognitive capitalism, the emerging mode of social production for public education and science and its promise for the democratization of knowledge. (Peters 2013a, b)

Since then, the concept of knowledge cultures has been developed in numerous publications (Peters and Jandri´c 2015, 2018; Peters et al. 2018)."


  • Book: Knowledge Socialism. Ed. by Michael A. Peters • Tina Besley • Petar Jandrić • Xudong Zhu. The Rise of Peer Production: Collegiality, Collaboration, and Collective Intelligence. Springer, 2020