Knowledge democracy and the
implications to information access
Ahmad Raza and Hasan Sohaib Murad
School of Business and Economics, University of Management and Technology,
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of “knowledge democracy,” deploying
a pluralistic, and cross disciplinary and humanistic critique.
Design/methodology/approach – This is a culturally pluralistic and humanistic interpretation of
globally emergent form of learning pedagogy, particularly manifested in e-learning.
Findings – This paper explores the concept of knowledge democracy in the context of knowledge
and information revolution. It has been argued that knowledge democratization implies freedom and
equality to access information and knowledge across cultures and societies, particularly in the context
of globalization. It is asserted that a democratization of the notion of knowledge would cause a
paradigm shift; the way instruction and education are socially structured in different social systems.
The knowledge society provides a new spirit of global sharing of values, acceptance of others and
learning to live with divergent worldviews. It is contended that e-learning in particular sets a new
global social opportunity to transcend regional, racial and national prejudices.
Originality/value – The paper underscores the signiﬁcance of pluralistic and humanistic
perspective on knowledge and e-learning.
Keywords Globalization, Epistemology, E-learning, Knowledge management,
Information and communication technologies
Paper type Conceptual paper
Social forms of knowledge
Historically, knowledge has been the deﬁning attribute of human species. From the simple
hunters of pre-historic times to medieval peasants to modern day information creators; all
have sought to understand more deeply the structure of physical and social world. Their
understanding is rooted in more and more sophisticated tools of knowledge creation and
knowledge dissemination. This process of knowledge creation is essentially social and
symbolic in nature. The human quality to create and codify understanding in symbolic
forms particularly “language” leverage human form of consciousness over the rest of the
living creatures of the world (Polanyi, 1983). Form birth till death, the behavior of the
individuals is shaped by the collective knowledge of the community, and the social
consciousness legitimized by the cultural epistemic justiﬁcations underlying the former.
Even the most rigorous forms of human knowledge such as modern science are subject to
social practices of the scientiﬁc communities and their trial and error methods (Kuhn, 1962;
Popper, 1962). An epistemic agreement about the structure of reality is amended
(reinterpreted) in the light of sufﬁcient collective counter-evidences. This shift in human
understanding reﬂects a corresponding shift in environment and consciousness.
Voegelin (1975) comments, each historical epoch is shaped by the “consciousness of the
epoch.” Earlier, Hegel speaks about this collective wave of human consciousness as
“zeitgeist.” Mannheim (1952) terms this collective consciousness as “weltanschauung.”
It appears from the reports of cultural and historical annals that “epochal consciousnesses
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Multicultural Education &
Vol. 2 No. 1, 2008
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