Information society

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The term information society refers to a society based on information and communication technologies (ICT). The process of penetrating all areas of life with ICT, through which a post-industrial or post-modern information society is formed, is known as informatization . The term information society is not rigidly defined and is often used together - or even synonymously - with the term knowledge society .

Depending on the focus, different forms of the information society can be distinguished:

  • Information economy society - emphasis on economic changes, e.g. B. Formation of a "quaternary" sector in the three-sector hypothesis .
  • Information technology society - ICT technologies as a key factor in economic (and social) development.
  • Information use society - emphasis on the use aspect and importance for people in an information society; also "informed society" ( Steinbuch 1966), "information-conscious society" ( Wersig 1973).

In addition to the penetration of ICT, it is characterized by the change in production forms through the emergence of new branches and trades, which can ultimately be summarized under the term information economy .


Main sources for the concept of the information society, the communication model of Claude Shannon ( The Mathematical Theory of Communication in 1948, dt: Mathematical Foundations of Information Theory 1976) and the relevant work of the Austrian-American cybernetician Norbert Wiener , the co-founder of modern information theory already 1948 predicted the shifts in society associated with the automation of production processes.

The theoretical basic statements of the concept of the information society come from the 1960s in Japan and the USA, especially from the context of the information economy . In the history of philosophy, references can be found from here back to concepts of the economy of thought ( Richard Avenarius , Ernst Mach ). In terms of social history, the concept emerged when a change in the employment structure of industrialized countries was identified. First of all, the term service society was developed for this . The informed society ( Steinbuch 1968, Haefner 1980 et al.) And the post-industrial society ( Bell 1973) belong to other predecessor terms . In Japan, the term “information society” appeared in 1963 in Tadao Umesao's theory of stages (1920–2010).

The concept of the information society was differentiated in the 1980s from a sub-area of ​​this tertiary service sector that did not contribute directly to the gross national product and had more or less to do with the processing of information; these changes are also known as the second industrial revolution or communicative revolution ( Wersig 1985).

The vision of the information society was a main theme during the 1990s in the context of the discussion about information highways . The term was further discredited in the public discussion in the course of the “bursting” of the so-called Internet bubble of the New Economy . At the political level , John Perry Barlow's adaptation of the “ Frontier ” metaphor to the Internet was particularly controversial. In Europe, the concept of the freedom information infrastructure as a techno-liberal vision for political communication was opposed to the frontier metaphor.

In connection with the digital divide hypothesis, a Marshall Plan for the information society was required. A recent study analyzes the digital divide in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the way to the information society.

The scientific theorist Helmut F. Spinner describes - with his own terminology - the information society as a preliminary stage or degenerative form of the knowledge society .

Information growth in society

The growth of technologically transmitted information was quantified in three distinguishable groups: (1) the growing capacity to transmit information through space (communication); (2) the capacity to transmit information through time (storage); and (3) the capacity to compute with information (computer science):

  1. The worldwide technological capacity to receive information via (unidirectional) broadcast and radio networks has increased from 432 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1986 to 715 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1993 to 1.2 (optimally compressed) zettabytes 2000 and 1.9 Zettabyte grew in 2007. This is an annual growth rate of 7% and not significantly faster than economic growth during the same period. The effective capacity of the world to exchange information through (bidirectional) telecommunications network has grown from 281 (optimally compressed) petabytes in 1986 to 471 petabytes in 1993 to 2,200 petabytes in 2000 and finally 65 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007. This is an annual growth rate of 30% and five times the rate of global economic growth.
  2. The global technological capacity to store information has grown from 2.6 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1986 to 15.8 in 1993 and 54.5 in 2000 to 295 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007. This is the informational equivalent of 404 billion CD-ROMs for 2007. If you were to stack these compact discs , you would get a stack that would stretch from the earth to the moon and another quarter of that distance beyond.
  3. The technological capacity of the world to compute information with general purpose computers has grown from 3.0 · 10 8 MIPS in 1986 to 6.4 · 10 12 MIPS in 2007, which corresponds to an annual growth rate of 60%, that is 10 times as fast like global economic growth.


Many contemporary authors such as Ulrich Beck , Jürgen Habermas , Jean-François Lyotard and Anthony Giddens regard complexity as an essential feature of our information society; the complexity leads to uncertainty , resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed . As a solution to this dilemma, it makes sense to try to reduce the complexity and thus also the uncertainty. This is exactly what information does : "Information is the reduction of uncertainty" ( Wersig 1971 ). In order to cope with the world, a “complexity-reducing society” or “information society” is to be aimed for.

Proven tools for reducing complexity are, for example:

Aids to reduce the complexity of action are, for example:

  • Further development of our senses,
  • Further development of the management concept .

Aids to reduce the complexity of knowledge are, for example:

Legal pillars of the information society

Kloepfer names the classic fundamental rights of communication ( freedom of expression , freedom of information, etc.), freedom of access to information , data protection , confidentiality and civil law exclusive rights of information ( right to one's own image , copyrights , etc.) as pillars of the information society .


  • Stavros Arabatzis : Hostile Media Society . Public war. Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2019, ISBN 978-3-658-26993-7 .
  • Daniel Bell : The coming of post-industrial society. A venture in social forecasting . NY: Basic Books, New York 1973.
  • Hensel, Matthias: The information society: newer approaches to the analysis of a keyword. Diss Uni Mainz 1989, Munich: R. Fischer, 1990 (series of media scripts: contributions to media and communication studies, vol. 8) ISBN 3-88927-064-6
  • Federal Ministry of Economics (Ed.): Info 2000: Germany's way in the information society . Bonn 1996.
  • Andreas Borrmann , Rainer Gerdzen : Cultural techniques of the information society . 1996.
  • Bill Gates : The Way Forward. The future of the information society . Munich 1997.
  • Sybille Krämer : media, computers, reality. Images of reality and new media . 1998.
  • Leon R. Tsvasman (ed.): The great lexicon media and communication. Compendium of interdisciplinary concepts . Würzburg 2006.
  • Peter A. Bruck , Guntram Geser : Schools on the way to the information society . 2000.
  • Ulrich Dolata , Jan-Felix Schrape : Internet, Mobile Devices and the Transformation of Media. Radical change as gradual reconfiguration. Berlin: Edition Sigma 2012, ISBN 978-3836035880 .
  • Stefan Iglhaut / Herbert Kapfer / Florian Rötzer (Eds.): What if? Future images of the information society. Heise, Hannover 2007, ISBN 978-3-936931-46-4 .
  • Gerhard Knorz , Rainer Kuhlen : Information Competence - Basic Competence in the Information Society . Constance 2000.
  • Helmut Krcmar : Information management . Springer, Berlin etc. 2003.
  • Karsten Kruschel : The unwound information society. About digital shrinkage, anti-knowledge and the mills of discovery . In: Sascha Mamczak , Wolfgang Jeschke (Ed.): The Science Fiction Year 2005 . Munich 2005, ISBN 3-453-52068-8 , pp. 588-606 .
  • Herbert Kubicek : The so-called information society. New information and communication technologies as an instrument for conservative social change . In: Work 2000 . Hamburg 1985, p. 76-109 .
  • Herbert Kubicek , Arno Rolf : Micropolis. With computer networks in the "information society" . Hamburg 1995.
  • Armand Mattelart: Brief history of the information society . Avinus-Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-930064-10-3 .
  • Nicholas Negroponte : Totally digital. The world between 0 and 1 or the future of communication . Munich 1997.
  • Theodore Roszak : The loss of thinking. About the myths of the computer age . Munich 1986.
  • Gernot Wersig : The Complexity of the Information Society . Constance 1996, ISBN 3-87940-573-5 .
  • Manuel Castells : The Information Age . (3 volumes; short review ).
    • Manuel Castells: The Rise of the Network Society . tape 1 . Leske and Budrich Verlag, Leverkusen 2001, ISBN 3-8100-3223-9 ( review ).
    • Manuel Castells: The Power of Identity . tape 2 . Leske and Budrich Verlag, Leverkusen 2002, ISBN 3-8100-3224-7 .
    • Manuel Castells: turn of the millennium . tape 3 . Opladen: Campus Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-8100-3225-5 .
  • Trkulja, Violeta; The digital divide: Bosnia-Herzegovina on the way to the information society. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2010 (publisher's note )
  • Steinbicker, Jochen: On the theory of the information society. A comparison of the approaches of Peter Drucker, Daniel Bell and Manuel Castells. 2nd Edition. VS, Wiesbaden 2011.

Magazine articles, academic writings

Web links


  1. Simon Nora, Alain Minc: The computerization of society. Campus 1997 (first 1979).
  2. ^ So Schauer, Thomas & Fritz Rademacher: The Challenge of the Digital Divide. 2002. See prospectus
  3. Published as a book under this title by Violeta Trkulja in 2010 (publisher's note)
  4. Archive link ( Memento from April 7, 2004 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Archive link ( Memento from April 7, 2004 in the Internet Archive )
  6. a b Video animation about The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information from 1986 to 2010 ( Memento from January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  7. ^ A b c d "The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information" , Martin Hilbert and Priscila López (2011), Science , 332 (6025), 60-65; There is free access to the article through this page:
  8. ^ Michael Kloepfer: Freedom of information and administrative procedures. In: Public Administration 2003, p. 223.