Author(s): BURKE PETER
In this book Peter Burke adopts a socio-cultural approach toexamine the changes in the organization of knowledge in Europe fromthe invention of printing to the publication of the FrenchEncyclopédie.
The book opens with an assessment of different sociologies ofknowledge from Mannheim to Foucault and beyond, and goes on todiscuss intellectuals as a social group and the social institutions(especially universities and academies) which encouraged ordiscouraged intellectual innovation. Then, in a series of separatechapters, Burke explores the geography, anthropology, politics andeconomics of knowledge, focusing on the role of cities, academies,states and markets in the process of gathering, classifying,spreading and sometimes concealing information. The final chaptersdeal with knowledge from the point of view of the individualreader, listener, viewer or consumer, including the problem of thereliability of knowledge discussed so vigorously in the seventeenthcentury.
One of the most original features of this book is its discussionof knowledges in the plural. It centres on printed knowledge,especially academic knowledge, but it treats the history of theknowledge 'explosion' which followed the invention of printing andthe discovery of the world beyond Europe as a process of exchangeor negotiation between different knowledges, such as male andfemale, theoretical and practical, high-status and low-status, andEuropean and non-European.
Although written primarily as a contribution to social orsocio-cultural history, this book will also be of interest tohistorians of science, sociologists, anthropologists, geographersand others in another age of information explosion.