chapter  1
11 Pages

Introduction

ByJOHN R. BRYSON, PETER W. DANIELS, NICK HENRY, JANE POLLARD

Capturing some of the more populist representations of current economic transformation, the writer in The Observer reflects one of a number of recent appeals to the growing significance of knowledge in contemporary capitalism (see, for example, Coyle 1997; Drucker 1993; Leadbeater 1999). A key argument developed in these literatures is the suggestion that economic competitiveness is now bound up not with new materials per se but with new ways of producing, using and combining diverse knowledges; the same ingredients, in essence, can be rearranged in new, and better, recipes. In similar vein, these arguments are to be found in academic commentaries on economic transformation. A selection of these might include, for example, Lash and Urry (1994) on economies of sign and space, Lundvalland Johnson (1994) on the learning economy, Quah (1996) on dematerialisation and Thrift (1998a) on soft capitalism. It is now clear that in a number of disciplines, including geography, sociology, economics, cultural studies, management, psychology and policy studies, there is a growing acceptance that flows and translations of knowledge are integral to understanding contemporary global capitalisms.