Theoretical Foundations of Defininf the Participatory, Co-operative Sustainable Information Society


Work data:

Type of work: Article (academic)


Information Society


social theory, social policy


The task of this paper is to provide a comparative and theoretically grounded discussion of the notions of sustainability, inclusion, and participation in the information society discourse. A theoretical model of society as dialectical system is introduced, in which the economic base and the political-cultural superstructure are mutually shaping each other. Based on a distinction between reductionistic, holistic, dualistic, and dialectical worldviews, four different theoretical approaches on defining the sustainable information society are distinguished, which are based on how the relationship between base and superstructure is conceived. Reductionistic approaches see ecological, technological, or economic changes as the sole driving forces of a sustainable information society. Projectionistic approaches see superstructures (polity and/or culture) as the determining forces of a sustainable information society. They are the least frequently found approaches in the literature. Dualistic approaches define multiple goals and dimensions of a sustainable information society, but do not consider if these goals are compatible and if and how they are causally linked. Dualistic models are the ones that can be found most frequently in the literature. As an alternative to these three models, the dialectical notion of the participatory, co-operative, sustainable information society (PCSIS) is introduced. Co-operation is based on an inclusive logic that establishes social systems, in which all involved actors benefit. The logic of co-operation is the binding force of a progressive society that connects its various dimensions.