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PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > I, J > Information Economy

Information Economy 

An economy that is centered on the production and exchange of information.

(Matt Ratto, Toronto, FIS1210 )


The information economy is widely seen to be in the process of replacing the industrial economy in rich countries. Whereas the industrial economy is centered on the production of tangible goods, the information economy is centered on the production and distribution of information. In an information economy, information is, oftentimes, a tradable resources or commodity. The development of the information economy is believed by many to have fundamentally altered our societies, by creating new modes of wealth creation and changing the nature of work.

There is an extensive and fragmented body of literature surrounding the notion of an information economy, and the question of whether or not it really is a fundamentally new phenomenon. The debate centers on whether the information society is a continuation of the modern industrial era, or a break and the beginning of a new society based on the economy of information.

Those who argue that nothing fundamental has changed claim that the institutions that controlled the industrial stage remain in place. All that has changed, in this view, is their use of information technologies as a means to maintain power and control over the mechanisms of production and distribution.

In opposition to this view if the “discontinuity” perspective, which is also known as the “post-industrialist” view. This school holds that there is a clear shift toward a “new society” marked by the diffusion of information and communication technologies, the commodification of information and the share of information-related tasks in the workforce and service sectors.

Some scholars take a middle view, acknowledging some change, but in degree rather than kind, from the forms of economic production and social interaction from the time of industrialism.


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