chapter  5
62 Pages

The Price of Knowledge 1

ByNico Stehr, Dustin Voss

This chapter addresses the question of how to assess and measure the price and value of knowledge—a conundrum that seems to be sufficiently answered already as the quote from the 1851 issue of the Scientific American suggests. It focuses on the functions of knowledge therefore differs from what has been the main preoccupation of classical social scientific investigations of knowledge within the traditions of the sociology and philosophy of knowledge, namely the social context, the creation and development of knowledge. Unlike general social labour, knowledge is impossible to translate into—or measure in—simple abstracts units. Knowledge loses its early dominant “use-value” and its value is reduced to its “exchange-value,” that is, the commercialization of knowledge. Among the theoretical approaches and concepts that might be regarded as a proxy for the price of knowledge, cultural capital and human capital theories stand out. Additional knowledge enlarges our capacity to act; thus, novel or additional knowledge may be of particular value.