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The Knowledge-Based Economy: The Potentially Globalizing and Self-Organizing
Dynamics of Interactions among Differently Codified Systems of Communication

<preprint version available at> 

Alongside economic exchange relations and political control, the
organization of codified knowledge in scientific discourses has become
increasingly a third coordination mechanism at the level of the social
system. When three coordination mechanisms interact, one can expect the
resulting dynamics to be complex and self-organizing. Each coordination
mechanism is specific in terms of its code of communication. For example,
"energy" has a meaning in physics very different from its meaning in the
economy or for policy-makers. In addition to providing the communications
with functionally different meanings, the codes can be symbolically
generalized, and then meaning can be globalized. Symbolically generalized
codes of communication can be expected to span competing horizons of meaning
that 'self-organize' given historical conditions. From this perspective, the
historical organization of meaning--for example, in discourses--can be
considered as instantiations or retention mechanisms. In other words,
meaning can further be codified in communication flows. Knowledge, for
example, can be considered as a meaning which makes a difference. In the
case of discursive knowledge, this difference is defined with reference to a
code in the communication. When discursive knowledge is socially organized
(e.g., as R&D) its dynamics can increasingly compete with other social
coordination mechanisms in the construction and reproduction of a
knowledge-based order.  

<pdf-version at> 


Loet Leydesdorff, 
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), 
University of Amsterdam, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam; 
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