Research Output
A note on the origins of the 'information society'
  The origins of the 'information society' are not well under stood. This paper assembles and evaluates the available data with a view to providing clarification of the provenance of a now widely-used and influential concept. Two main accounts have appeared. The first features Machlup's 1962 monograph The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States. The second claims Japanese proven ance, citing articles in the broadcasting journal Hoso Asahi. Various equivocations and confusions are discussed, such as the tendency in both accounts to conflate the 'information society' with the concept of an 'information industry'. The second account quickly emerges as the stronger. However, it is argued (perhaps controversially) that ultimate credit for the invention of the 'information society' belongs not to the authors of the articles published in Hoso Asahi, but to that journal's editorial staff. While the paper is primarily inter pretative, some additional research data are cited.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 April 1996

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Taylor & Francis

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    303 Social processes


Duff, A., Criag, D., & McNeill, D. A. (1996). A note on the origins of the 'information society'. Journal of Information Science, 22(2), 117-122.



Information society; knowledge;

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