Information, technology, and work

Proletarianism, precarity, piecework

Authored by: Leah A. Lievrouw , Brittany Paris

Routledge Handbook of Digital Media and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138672093
eBook ISBN: 9781315616551
Adobe ISBN:


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The publication of Fritz Machlup’s The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States (1962), a novel exploration of the role of knowledge in the postwar American economy, marked a turning point in analyses of economic activity and employment. He demonstrated that the most knowledge-intensive sectors in the economy (he counted education, research and development, publishing and other media production, telecommunications, ‘conventions,’ information machines, professional services, and government) had contributed a surprisingly large and growing amount to the gross national product in the 1950s and employed a correspondingly growing and productive contingent of highly educated, professionalized, white-collar ‘knowledge workers.’ Knowledge production, he suggested, was poised to rival or even overtake the economic power of industrial manufacturing.

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