Between the transnational public sphere and the knowledge society: a dual level of analysis**

As always, there are no reading times… but I hope you are interested



NB Please share and reuse the published contents but, kindly, always cite the Authors and Sources even when using conceptual categories and related operational definitions. We share knowledge and information, but we try to interrupt the non-virtuous and incorrect circuit of "copy and paste" (even the most "sophisticated"), fed by those who only know how to "use" the work of others.

I always say: the value of sharing outweighs the bitterness of the misconduct received. In the contributions that I propose there are the concepts, the studies, the research topics that I have been conducting for many years: the value of sharing also becomes a risk, but one must be consistent with the values one believes in. Enjoy the reading!

And, precisely in the (original) spirit of the knowledge society and the sharing economy, I am sharing a chapter extracted from one of my monographs, hoping that it will interest you and provide some ideas. Apologies in advance for the length but thought I'd share it fully.

Dedicated to all those who, despite a thousand difficulties and obstacles, believing in the sharing of knowledge, in "shared knowledge" (2003) and in cooperation, work for a concretely open and inclusive society, going beyond slogans and certain narratives. With a critical spirit!

For those wishing to study further, the bibliographic reference is: P.Dominici (2005), Communication in the hypercomplex society. Sharing knowledge to govern change, Franco Angeli, Milan 2011

In these cases we say "... it's time to take stock". Our analysis, in attempt to define the conceptual categories useful for the formulation of a theoretical-interpretative model of the one we have defined society hypercomplex, must necessarily produce conclusions that - we hope - can prove to be the bearers of further insights and, above all, of "planning" functional to the management of the complex change underway and, more generally, to the government of the uncertain. In this sense, it is not useless to briefly recall the suggestions (connections) and the critical issues – “programmatic points” of the international agenda of the old nation-states – which have fueled the progress of thought and writing, and on which we have focused in the course of our analysis:

to) there Modernity, even in the light of the numerous readings offered by analyzed scholars and thinkers, has been confirmed as the age ofambivalence he was born in paradox, of the open conflict, of the crisis of big narrativesscientific ideologies and paradigms. An age secular marked by a continuous, as well as complex, process of redefinition of social imaginaries and moral horizons, from a sort of Great Uprooting (Great Disembedding)[1] which even questions the very concept of identity. A phase of change that seems to be more like the era of the triumph of plurality of language games – whose fulcrum is, however and always, thesocial action – than as the era of the global and the homogeneous (Lyotard vs. Habermas).

b) Having analyzed the main characteristics of the globalization process, we are evidently able to state that: (1) globalization is a “fact”: therefore, it is not about being a priori or ideologically pro or against this process, but to develop paradigms, operational definitions, models suitable for the fragmented, fluctuating and uncertain world of hypercomplex society, which make it possible to develop and test development political strategies necessarily with a global and innovative perspective compared to the past, i.e. more suitable strategies for governing this process; (2) globalization itself, in our opinion, does not constitute a moment of fracture (postmodernity) compared to what has been defined as "early modernity", on the contrary, contains and maintains within it all the contradictions typical of modernity, however extending them on a global scale and radicalizing them  the effects. The process of modernization – having overcome the first phase of industrial modernity – seeing its own further increased complexity And ambivalence, thanks above all to the global system of communication, becomes aware to have become "his own problem" (concept of "reflexivity"). There are two "forces" or, better to say, the "engines" of the global knowledge economy that face each other dialectically in the open field: on the one hand theinterdependence economic and technological (and interconnection), on the other, the fragmentation social, political and cultural (Dominici 1998,2000,2003)

c) As if to make the use of the concept of even more founded ambivalence, it must be recorded that the advent of network company and of Knowledge Society it is certainly shaping up to be an extraordinary opportunity democratization of cultural processes, of knowledge and, therefore, of candies; but, at the same time, you must always pay close attention to ensure that this new one society-world does not reveal itself, essentially, as a society of total control and surveillance; the concrete risk is that of creating a completely interdependent global system in which, even at the level of individual praxis, the social demand for protection and security itself becomes a source of new risks for the social actor and his freedoms. A global company built on the transition from old at the new economy, from material flows to immaterial flows, from Financial capital to the human, intellectual and/or cultural capital[2]. A decisive step in the transformations underway, because it determines the evolution of the world capitalist system towards a new (social) mode of production that is more dynamic, open and free from hierarchies of any kind: thenetwork economy.

d) The strategic centrality of communication, understood as social process of sharing knowledge, in all dimensions of practice: from systems to complex organisations, individual and collective action are increasingly oriented and shaped by the "nature" of the communicative processes activated and by a rationality which, considering thehypercomplexity of the context, it can only be limited[3]. In the knowledge society, communication, in determining a expansion from the practice, re-defines the same conceptual category of "social action", re-configuring the modalities of social interaction, power relations, the system of relationships, the public sphere (by now) transnational (perhaps we could even speak of "public spheres") and organizational models. Individual and collective identities are at stake, but also traditional models of transmission of knowledge. Acknowledging this evidence can only make a theoretical and operational redefinition of the analytical categories necessary, not to say urgent, functional to the elaboration of adequate models and interpretative schemes.

And)The increased complexity of social systems – which has been referred to several times – implies a permanent risk situation and uncertainty locally and global which over time, paradoxically, while raising the level of social acceptability of risk[4] and dangers, it actually makes the systems themselves more vulnerable, forced to also manage the processes social amplification[5]. In this regard, the crucial role, within the social systems, of the perception[6] (individual and collective) which greatly affects what some scholars have defined as the "new riskiness of risk" (Beck). Just think about how much the Politic (internal and foreign) of nation-states is forced to deal on a daily basis with problems concerning security, social protection, uncertainty, precariousness, risks and dangers of various kinds which, beyond their empirical dimension and effective objectivity, are sometimes even only perceived as such. This dimension cannot fail to affect (indeed!) the Political decision makerdetermining choices and strategies. Also in this case, there is a strong need for new conceptual categories and new interpretative models for a context characterized by Strength opposed (globalization and fragmentation).

f) Information and knowledge, together with the communication (their "propeller") - already protagonists of the processes of socialization and formation of individual and collective identities – in addition to having become the main "factors of production" and, above all, of the fundamental "primary needs", they have now revealed themselves as the only resources capable of making the parts of a world-system apparently in open conflict communicate.

g) Information, knowledge and communication could in the future - with adequate political strategies of international scope - prove ever more decisive in the tough battle for the universal recognition, the definitive affirmation and – hopefully – the concrete application of the “rights of global citizenship”, as well as for the reduction of the dramatic inequalities present in the world-system.

h) In the era of the global and the network company, many of these (local and global) inequalities are not only – as Marx had critically and opportunely taught us – due to profound distortions in economic relations; consequently, they cannot be explained only on the basis of assumptions related to a determinism of type economic (just think of the famous formula of the possession of the "means of production"). The new inequalities are more and more often type cognitive And cultural: I am inequalities which are also manifested in relatively developed countries, where civil liberties and fundamental rights are ignored, not to say trampled upon. They constitute the inevitable outcome of the failure to develop democracy and the society governed by law, but also of the lack of respect for cultural differences[7] and freedom of thought. Taking this point to extremes with a question, one might ask: how is it possible to enforce rights whose existence is not even known? But the question ofliteracy and, on a next level, of the training it is absolutely decisive, even just for planning development and welfare, for example guaranteeing health and social assistance. It is a problem, for a change, of access to resources, among which – as mentioned – the most decisive today are those immaterial (information and knowledge = skills), evidently able to determine asymmetry in social relationships at any level[8].

the) The process of globalization, consequently, inevitably brings with it the need to to review in key transnational any economic, political, social and cultural strategy. The information and knowledge society, although a constitutive dimension from the hypercomplex society, represents the hope – in many ways, the new utopia[9]to give life to a more responsible and supportive ethical globalization "project" which, despite the still worrying dimensions of the digital divide, find its footholdsher levers – own in the knowledge and in global communication. What we have defined the new ecosystem of knowledge finds in the interconnected economy extraordinary opportunities for democratization of knowledge and cultural processes, definitively undermining the old industrial model made up of consolidated structures, hierarchies, control logics and of closed to change. Knowledge, a strategic intangible resource for the ongoing change, is increasingly seen and perceived as a "common good" capable of re-establishing less unbalanced and asymmetrical social power relations.

Therefore, in the light of what gradually emerged in the course of our work - these "critical points", mentioned above, we believe represent a clear and, at the same time, complete synthesis - we realized the extreme difficulty (practically the impossibility) , given the complexity of the dimensions that constitute our "object of study", to arrive at definitive conclusions or to propose, presumptuously, even "solutions" (which, among other things, can no longer afford to neglect the ethical dimension), with respect to vital issues of globalization risky and of the so-called society from the knowledge And from the total communication.

However, in addition evidently to the great passion and interest that binds the writer to these topical and decisive topics for the fate of the world-system, it was precisely the profound awareness of the considerable difficulties that we would have encountered in the attempt Of define a model analysis of change and reflect on the possibilities of aethics (rational) from the communication for the technological civilization on the net – that he had a perspective universal[10] – combined with the urgency of such a reflection – testified moreover by an extremely articulated scientific literature – to guide our analysis, continuously feeding it with ideas. But, at the basis of our work, there is undoubtedly another intimate conviction: that the ethical communication and the widespread knowledge, at a local and global level, really represent the fundamental pre-requisites for the realization of the "project" - on which, by now, (almost) everyone, even if starting from different ideological positions, seem to agree - of a fairer and more inclusive global society[11], which once again places the "values" of man at its foundation (neohumanism[12]) and global citizenship rights; to all the more reason, in a historical moment in which the dimension of conflictprimarily cultural and social, seems clearly prevalent within the world-system. A new humanism based on widespread and accessible knowledge that is capable of including the weakest subjects of the world-economy. Nonetheless, we must also register positive signs of an "awakening" of one global consciousness of the problems that characterize globalization. In this sense, the advent of the new public spheres on the net and the phenomenon ofopen source, destined to offer important opportunities. However, we must point out that this awakening took place, perhaps, also thanks to a global communication system which, while presenting numerous questionable and, in some cases, disturbing aspects, has, however, offered, mainly through the Big Network – with his radically de-hierarchical reticular structurewhich develops autopoietically – and wireless technologies the extraordinary opportunity for a formation of "worldviews" (scientific and otherwise) alternatives[13] to those hegemons and which, in the future – provided there is always the political will of the “strong” subjects (nation-states and world organizations) on the international scene – is destined to increase the margins of freedom of individual and collective action and, above all, development opportunities[14]. And it is in this sense that Manuel Castells, referring to communication in the digital age, speaks of a revolution marked by the affirmation of a new form of interactive communication – based on the local/global ubiquity allowed by networks wireless, broadband transmission improvement and advanced software – defined self-communication of mass «What is historically unprecedented, with important consequences for social organization and cultural mutation, is the articulation of all forms of communication in a composite and interactive digital hypertext that includes, mixes and recombines in their diversity the full range of cultural expressions conveyed by human interaction»[15]. Herbert Marcuse, an exponent of the critical theory of society and author-cult in the hot sixties of the protest. In his The One-Dimensional Man (1964), in fact, Marcuse, despite being extremely critical of advanced capitalist society, "guilty" of having subjected man to the productive apparatus (promoting the uncritical thinking), through instrumental rationality, technique, consumption and the "false needs" promoted and induced by the cultural industry, recognizes with a remarkable sense of intuition that "the technological processes of mechanization and unification could free the energy of many individuals, making it flow into a still unexplored realm of freedom beyond necessity. The very structure of human existence would be modified."[16].

There knowledge society, characterized by real-time circulation of information and knowledgeas well as contributing to the reduction in complexity, determined the formation of a global collective consciousness of the problems of the global risk society. This is a "reflection" of fundamental importance, which seems, moreover, to have further sensitized world public opinion to some extremely important issues such as human rights, the new inequalities, democracy and the demand for equal opportunities, the identity respect etc.

The concepts and theories analyzed have caused, perhaps paradoxically, to re-emerge what we can consider, to all intents and purposes, a further "fact": the ever more insistent request for "responsibility" and for an ethics which, beyond the scientific nature of the legal norm and/or the system of culturally codified norms and sanctions, proves to be more capable of interpreting the "hyper-complex society". In fact, dominated by the Western model of rationality, give her new networks of social interaction produced by convergence technological, from the hybridization from the cultures, from the circulation of knowledge and information in real time (speed = efficiency) and from virtualization of flows – the sphere of discourse of ethics has regained a lost centrality, by virtue of the triumph both of faith in the Enlightenment ideal of "progress" and of an optimism generated by a trust unlimited, of a positivist matrix, in the potential of science and technology.

In particular, the crucial question of ethics re-proposes itself as an absolutely fundamental and transversal area of study to the disciplinary sectors, as well as a crucial sector for the evolution of social systems. A province of meaning that the social sciences seem not to want to cross, almost fearing (wrongly) a contamination of their own scientific nature and methodological rigour, sometimes even ignoring their original matrix.

An issue that calls into question different areas of study and which, wanting to make a further synthesis, essentially involves a two levels of analysis: at a first level, which we could define as "macro", a communication ethicsreally oriented towardsunderstood, could really turn out to be the "tool" able to allow a better management and/or reduction of risks and some uncertainties (due to lack or insufficient dissemination of knowledge) and, above all, a mediation of the new forms of conflictuality – global (between nation-states, communities, ethnic groups, between transnational companies and the context, between “worlds of life” etc.) and local (between the system of power and civil society, between public administrations and citizens, between institutions and the world of production ) – increasingly “interconnected” with each other. A complex process which, once triggered, would bring with it the recognition of rights and ethical principles that can be shared across the board universal.

At a second level, defined as "micro", our analysis could not fail to acknowledge that communication, understood as social process of sharing knowledge, and, with it, i streams communication skills have by now assumed a position of absolute centrality in training, as well as thepublic opinion (fundamental element of modern democratic systems), of identity and some collective memberships and, more generally, in the socialization of individuals who are increasingly autonomous in their choices. Obviously in the light of that process that we have defined as expansion of practice and, specifically, of the public sphere, both analytical dimensions converge towards a strategic perspective which, based on a necessary redefinition of the very concept of "public sphere"[17] and, above all, on a careful analysis of all the complex implications that this process entails, is aimed at identifying more aware and targeted strategies.


On the other hand, as further confirmation of what was previously stated, we must consider that the complex modernity has triggered, among the many dynamics, a process of hypertrophy of the bureaucratic systems resulting from the strengthening of the old nation-states which, in turn, determined the progressive dissolution Of that public space defined by the rule of law as the place in which all social instances, the methods of political representation and, above all, the protection of rights must find legitimacy and recognition on the part of the community.

The evolution process of newborn democratic regimes, often culturally based on the concept of popular sovereignty– understood as hegemony or dominance of majorities – and on the lack of definition of the relationship between the founding values of freedom and ofequality[18], has caused a radical politicization of public sphere which, then articulated in political institutions and in new social instances in search of public recognition and an operational translation into rules of law, has increasingly taken the form of autopoietic system.

The operating space of the public sphere it has thus seen itself drastically reduced, in an unequivocal manner, to the sole question of "representation". Politics enters a crisis perhaps precisely at the moment in which the public sphere is increasingly configured as handmaid of the power system. At that moment, that is, to quote Habermas, that level of mediation between system and the world of life that is based on a communicative action able to critically thematize social issues and opinions generated within the world of life and civil society, giving them full legitimacy as well as public relevance.

The inevitable expansion from the practice (not only politics) therefore forces the scientific community to rethink, if not even to reformulate, the same conceptual categories - and, among these, that of the public sphere[19] which has proved to be absolutely central – which have allowed for a long time to decode socio-cultural changes. And this is exactly it expansion to require a significant effort from scholars and intellectuals, in an attempt to develop a paradigm more flexible than the concept of “public sphere”. This need becomes even more urgent precisely in this dimension which has proved to be - as mentioned - absolutely strategic for the progress of democratic regimes and, perhaps, for their very survival. At stake are the citizenship rights which, never as in this era, are to be correlated with theaccess to information and knowledge but also, and above all, with the possibility of using them more consciously and productively, aimed at influencing political decisions and democratic dialectics.

A crucial question that cannot fail to be addressed also at an international level, also because the new information technologies are contributing decisively to the process of building one new metanational public sphere characterized by completely innovative ways of social interaction, capable of overturning the traditional logics of democratic dialectics and representation and, more generally, ofarena a policy that is now also transnational[20].

The world-system is experiencing a moment of great and unstoppable transformations with an uncertain outcome, resulting from complex processes that are shaping the configuration of increasingly structured social systems, from the point of view of streams (economic, political and social), in a manner reticulate. It is an extremely delicate historical phase, associated by many with the concepts of risk, uncertainty, complexity, in which the strong perception of one seems to spread more and more precariousness of memberships and of the Subject, already upset in his cognitive and existential certainties by the advent of modernity, "built precisely on the absolute value of the relativity of knowledge and values. The scientific paradigms and, more generally, the interpretative models of reality, produced by modern and contemporary thought, are based precisely on the even painful maturation of the awareness of this crisis. And, moreover, it is precisely the so-called "exact sciences" that take note of the exclusively probabilistic and statistical value of knowledge. This fundamental and renewed awareness has an extraordinary impact not only evidently on theory and scientific research, but on all socio-cultural systems. The evolution of communication processes and systems takes on absolutely strategic importance in this complex phase of change.

The Great Web and wireless technologies – the company's new "technological infrastructure". hypercomplex - producing a de-sequentialization of time (Castells), in addition to determining the advent of a new model of communication and, consequently, of a new culture, have triggered a process of transformation of the forms of sociality, profoundly modifying all organizational models (e-government, e- business, e-learning, teleworking etc.). And, it could not be otherwise, the incredible hypertrophication of the sphere of human action has brought with it new issues of an ethical nature that can no longer be avoided, so much so as to make it necessary to predictive knowledge (Jonas) and, above all, new responsibility which coincide with new ones risky freedoms.

The renewed awareness of the strategic centrality of knowledge determined the definitive affirmation of a new form of capitalism (new economy) based on the circulation of intangible assets: it is a cultural capitalism which seems to have overturned the relationship – analyzed and defined by Karl Marx – between the categories of structure (economics) e superstructure (culture); a capitalism founded on the possibility of access to resources (Rifkin) and discovering a new one dynamicity in the possibility of diffusion in real time knowledge and informationturbo capitalism) and in the virtualization some money.

The communication, through the space-time compression (Harvey) made possible by new information technologies – in a context in which we are increasingly moving towards convergence and thecultural hybridization becomes the decisive variable capable on the one hand of spreading the knowledge and, therefore, of reduce complexity (Luhmann) and, on the other, of mediate the new forms of conflict that pervade the radical modernity. The process of globalization, therefore, is placing on the agenda problems that are not easy to solve and which require the involvement of the entire international community: the coexistence between different cultures in mutual respect and recognition; the new labor market that requires individuals more and more skills and flexibility; the birth of new inequalities social; the environmental question; international crime, the new forms of slavery (of examples we could make many more). All this brought to the fore in theagenda of public opinion some issues that had perhaps been neglected because they were now considered as established facts: among these, above all, the question of human rights (today global citizenship rights) which should be, in addition to being formally recognized, universally respected.

Globalization - it should be emphasized once again - is not, as many initially believed, an exclusively economic process, since it affects the cultural dimension with profound social and political consequences: it is a process that radically invests the sphere of shared values, of the meanings and gods symbols that allow the survival of a historically determined social system, through the cohesion, trust and cooperation of the actors that constitute it.

Recognized the right to relativism of cultures and values, we have perhaps reached a crisis point – of crossing the abyss – in which the attempt to transcend relativism itself becomes of fundamental importance (in any case in the respect for cultural diversity)using one ethical communication, really oriented towards understanding and it exchange of value.

Our belief is that this path, certainly not simple, can be undertaken not only on a theoretical level but also on a practical level (political decisions within a "global internal policy"). On the other hand, in addition to being decisive for the communication socialization of social actors (individual and collective) – otherwise free from any liability and/or constraint – could be fundamental – as already mentioned – in the complex process of mediation of global and local conflicts. Modern social systems, moreover, are crossed by migratory flows directed towards the North of the rich and developed world which are intensifying more and more, posing, among many others, the central question of live togetherza. And one cannot continue to believe that the only viable solutions are linked to the raising of barriers (political or cultural) or to the simple and formal recognition of the value of tolerance, often hypocritically used.

Believe in the possibility of one ethical communication, of an "action oriented towards understanding", means believing in the possibility of "convergence" between values and visions of the world that are sometimes even opposing; means to believe in dialogue and in the comparison between different "worlds of life"; it means believing in the possibility of an effective and universal recognition of human rights (today we could say gods global citizenship rights) also in his being worker And consumer; it means believing in the possibility of a real one integration of peoples based on the recognition of shareable values not established a priori, but acquired in a way intersubjective.

In practice this means – among the many possibilities – educating to multiculturalism[21], to the knowledge of the "big Other"[22] (of other cultures) with appropriate training policies, while strengthening one's own historically determined cultural identity. But it also means, in other words, believing in the concretely feasible possibility, in the strong project of one ethical globalization that, in people who have responsibility of power, put your own first agenda just the responsibility principle[23], the dignity of man, justice and the rights of peoples.

It is a complex perspective that will require time, but above all awareness and  willingness to implement on the part, in the first place, of the old nation-states – now overtaken by the immaterial flows of the so-called new-economy – of transnational companies (who can't believe these issues don't concern them), of outreach agencies (family, school, party, trade union, associations, etc.) and of all the subjects involved in various capacities in the formation of consciences and in the mediation of conflicts, not least the so-called intellectuals. The study carried out, in this regard, has placed the emphasis precisely on the need, as amply argued by the main theorist ofcommunicative action Jurgen Habermas[24], that some are guaranteed everywhere basic prerequisites related to survival and material conditions of people's life. If this were not to happen, this perspective would have a way and reason to exist and be applied only in developed countries.

However, the long-term goal must remain that of creating – to use Beck's words – one transnational civil society, based on the rights of global citizenship and not only on the rules imposed by the globalized market.

In this regard, without appropriate and targeted transnational political strategies, the gap between advanced countries (holders from the knowledge and means of production) and developing countries[25], which would thus be definitively cut off from the dynamics of the knowledge economy.

As repeatedly stated, and consider the distinctive features of what Castells has defined NetworkSociety, the implementation of strategies (and programs) aimed at sharing knowledge and a communication pragmatics[26] responsible can undoubtedly turn out to be strategic resources functional to the formation of one transnational civil society, to the definition of a global internal policy and to the foundation of a transnational public ethic (ethical globalization). This could be the true value added of the radical modernity.

The spread of one communicative rationality and not instrumental is already contributing significantly to the formation of a transnational sphere of law and morality.


In the hypercomplex society, the practice of communication has literally exploded, resulting in a process of reconfiguration of space-time and a progressive erosion of the boundaries between "public" and "private".

At the same time, the failure to define new parameters in the field of moral conduct and the consequent diffusion of values increasingly linked to an individualism, sometimes exasperated and irrational, have pushed the Subject towards a condition of "isolation" which has certainly favored a more strategic (re)positioning, within the training offer, dei average and, in general, of the information system[27].

There exponential growth of socialization channels and the communication crisis have further loosened the plot of the social fabric, increasing in many cases the distances between the institutions ("formal" and "informal") and the individual social actors who have always contributed to creating that social space shared used for comparison and exchange, for the re-elaboration of information and knowledge, as well as for the definition of strategies for practice.

The development of the world-system is therefore closely linked to the affirmation of a new one civil religion founded on knowledge (widespread) and on values not imposed, but acquired in intersubjective way from all actors involved. In this sense, there is an urgent need - to quote Ferrarotti - for a "faith without dogmas"[28] (1990) fueled by the ability to complex thinking[29] and a responsibility based on skills.

The decision to focus on strategies aimed at sharing from the knowledge will be able to play an absolutely decisive role in reducing inequality (social asymmetries), in the governance of social selfishness and, consequently, in the productive mediation/re-composition of conflicts. But the social production of knowledge - in our opinion - is increasingly destined to increase the "spaces of freedom" within the old nation-states, guaranteeing greater opportunities for emancipation than in the past. Not to mention the impact on public administrations and on the business system (national and transnational) which, precisely thanks to the improvement of internal and external communication processes (COMMUNICATION And ORGANIZATION and vice versa), increasingly choose to focus on the company model at the net, made possible by shared knowledge, by continuous training and from a totally different way of thinking about organizational practice.

Recognition of the value of transparency, then, pushes complex organizations to concretely configure themselves as "open systems" (apt stakeholders, to the territory and to the Community), able to better handle the complexity: a complexity always linked – we want to reiterate it forcefully – to one shortage or, in any case, to a bad one management from the knowledge. In this sense, it is necessary to start from the awareness that the structure of theknowledge economy it is based on the sharing of this extraordinary intangible resource; sharing that, contrary to traditional control logics and access typical of the old industrial model, constitutes the fundamental pre-requisite at the basis of the same possibility of knowledge production.


[1] For more information, see the important work by C. Taylor (2007), A Secular Age,, The secular age, Feltrinelli, Milan 2009.

[2] See D. Cohen (1999), Nos temps modernis,, Our modern times. From financial capital to human capital, Einaudi, Turin 2001; on the conceptual category of “human capital” see: GS Becker (1964-75-93), human capital. A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education,, The human capital, Laterza, Rome-Bari 2008.

[3] As known, the expression "limited rationality" was proposed by Herbert A.Simon, Nobel Prize winner for economics (1978), and is also extremely interesting for the purposes of our analysis which correlates rationality-communication-knowledge-management/reduction of the complexity. To learn more, see: HA Simon (1982), Models of Bounded Rationality, 2 vols., MIT Press, Cambridge Mass; HA Simon (1997), Models of Bounded Rationality, Volume 3, Empirically grounded economic reason,, Economic science and human behavior, Community Editions, Turin 2000.

[4] On the concept of "social acceptability" of risk, we point out a "classic": M. Douglas (1985), Risk Acceptability According to the Social Sciences, Routledge, New York, trans. it., How we perceive danger. Anthropology of risk, Feltrinelli, Milan 1991; M.Douglas (1992), Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory. London: Routledge, trans. it., Risk and guilt, Il Mulino, Bologna 1996; with reference to the ethical implications cf. SOHansson, “Ethical Criteria of Risk Acceptance”, in Erkenntnis, 59 (2003): 291-309..

[5] See N.Pidgeon, REKasperson, P.Slovic (eds.), The social amplification of risk, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003.

[6] The scientific literature on the matter is extremely vast and articulated. We point out, in particular, B. Fischhoff (2002), “Risk perception, risk communication, risk taking”, inJournal of Psychology and Financial Markets, 3:102-111; B.Fischhoff, (2009), “Risk perception and communication”, in Detels R., Beaglehole R., Lansang MA, and Gulliford M. (Eds), Oxford Textbook of Public Health, Fifth Edition, pp. 940-952.

[7] On the concept of "cultural difference" and the relationship between cultural differences and the universalism of rights cf. M.Wieviorka (2001), The difference,, Cultural difference. A sociological perspective, Laterza, Rome-Bari 2002.

[8] Consider, for example, a as education and training, fundamental tools of a truly democratic society, they have always been considered the only "social elevator" available.

[9] For a historical and cultural analysis of the concept of "utopia" see, in particular, the following texts: L. Mumford (1921), The Story of Utopias,, History of utopia, Donzelli, Rome 1997 (with a preface by F. Crespi), (1st Italian edition of the work dates back to 1969); J. Servier (1967), History of Utopia,, History of utopia. The dream of the West from Plato to Aldous Huxley, Ed.Mediterranee, Rome 2002.

[10] On the need for an ethics that has a perspective universal and on the problems it entails, see the important work by A.Catemario, The cultural contradiction in complex societies: universal ethics, Ed. Kappa, Rome 1990; interesting, in particular, the "reading" of universal ethics - offered by the well-known cultural anthropologist - compared with what he defines as "disharmonies" and with the fundamental dimension of "needs". Among the more recent contributions, always on the theme of universal ethics, see also the following essays: H.Küng (1990), Projekt Weltethos,, Project for a global ethic, Rizzoli, Milan 1991; R. Viganò, Kohlberg Psychology and Education. An ethic for the complex society, Life and Thought, Milan 1991; Z.Bauman, K.Tester (2001), Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman,, Society, political ethics. Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman, Raffaello Cortina, Milan 2002; P.Donati (edited by), P.Koslowski, D.De Kerckhove, JCAlexander, Civil ethics at the end of the 20th century. Three scenarios, Mondadori, Milan 1997; J.Ladrière (1997), L'éthique dans l'univers de la rationalité,,Ethics in the universe of rationality, Life and Thought, Milan 1999; V.Franco, possible ethics. The paradox of morality after the death of God, Donzelli, Rome 1996; T. Chiminazzo, Ethics and economics: utopia becomes reality. For a world improve, Franco Angeli, Milan 2002; also worth mentioning is the reflection, extremely critical of "ethical skepticism", carried out by T.Nagel who tries to rationally explain ethics, making use of the concepts of "altruism" and "prudence": T.Nagel (1970) , The Possibility of Altruism,, The possibility of altruism, The Mill, Bologna 1994.

[11] See A.Kohn (1986), No Contests,, The end of the competition, Baldini & Castoldi, Milan 1999; it is a well-documented and critical work of "competition" understood as a founding principle of complex societies.

[12] The analysis conducted by Martha Nussbaum is very interesting, closely correlating some fundamental categories (education, training, citizenship, rights, democracy, cosmopolitanism) with the strategic centrality of humanistic culture: MC Nussbaum (2010), Not for Profit. Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Princeton University Press, Princeton; see also Cf. F.Battistrada, For a revisited Humanism. From Scheler to Heidegger, from Gramsci to Jonas, to the ethics of liberation, Jaka Book, Milan 1999.

[13]Just think of the formation of transnational "pressure groups" - and "virtual communities" - which have become "bearers" of fundamental political and social demands; to the development of protest and resistance movements that have succeeded in organizing themselves and spreading their opinions through the Internet; to the fundamental work of sensitizing world public opinion on issues of freedom and respect for rights. The real-time circulation of the knowledge produces further knowledge, and, therefore, “problem solving skills”. On the opportunities and risks of the "global village" see the original reading offered by: C. Gubitosa, alternative information. From the dream of the global village to the risk of the globalized village, EMI, Bologna 2002.

[14] See, in particular, the analysis of Y. Benkler (2006), The Wealth of Networks. How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom,, The richness of the Net. There social production transforms the market and increases freedomsà, Bocconi University Ed., Milan 2007.

 [15] See M.Castells (2009), Communication Power,, Communication and power, Bocconi University Publisher, Milan 2009, p.60.

[16] See H.Marcuse (1964), The One-Dimensional Man. Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, transl. en. The one-dimensional man, Einaudi, Turin 1967, p.22.

[17] See M. La Torre, Citizenship and political order. Rights, the crisis of sovereignty and the public sphere: a European perspective, Giappichelli, Turin 2004.

[18] See in particular: J. Rawls (1971), A Theory of Justice, A theory of justice, Feltrinelli, Milan 1982; R.Dworkin (1978), Taking Rights Seriously,, Rights taken seriously, Il Mulino, Bologna 1982; A.Sen (1992), Inequality Reexamined,, Inequality. A critical review, Il Mulino, Bologna 1994; N.Bobbio (1995), Equality and Liberty, Einaudi, Turin.

[19] For an introductory reference framework on the topic, see W. Privitera, Public sphere and democratization, Laterza, Rome-Bari 2001, work in which the author examines the different models of the public sphere and critically reflects on the crisis of popular sovereignty in the era of globalization.

[20] Think of the contemporary debate on the question of democracy and its possible drifts (concept of "post-democracy"), paradoxically linked precisely to the greater opportunities (concept of "polyarchy") that democracy itself defines and determines. See in particular: J.Dunn (2005); L.Campora (2004); G. Schiavone (2001); C.Crouch (2000); R. Dahl (1971) and (1998); G. Sartori (1992). For an introduction to the concept, see the entry edited by Norberto Bobbio himself for the celebrated Dictionary of politics, UTET, Turin (ed.1983 and 1990), directed by N.Bobbio, N.Matteucci, G.Pasquino.

[21] On these issues see the work of MCNussbaum (1997),op. cit.

[22] The concept of "great other" is linked to Lacan (who associates it with Power) and was taken up by the Slovenian philosopher S.Žižek in the work The Big Other. Nationalism, enjoyment, mass culture, Feltrinelli, Milan 1999.

[23] See H. Jonas (1979), Das Prinzip Verantworthung, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, The principle of responsibility. An ethic for the technological civilization, Einaudi, Turin 1990.

[24] On the theory of communicative action, but also on the concept of  rationality, see the important work by J.Habermas (1981), Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, Bd.I Handlungsrationalität und gesellschaftliche Rationalisierung, Bd.II Zur Kritik der funktionalistischen Vernunft, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, Theory of communicative action, Vol.I Rationality in action and social rationalization, Vol.II Critique of functionalist reason, Il Mulino, Bologna 1986.

[25] On the question of the existing rift between the North and South of the world-system - a rift which without adequate policies is destined to worsen - see: I.Wallerstein (1995), After Liberalism,, After liberalism, Jaka Book, Milan 1998.

[26] See the concept of "communication pragmatics" in the famous text by P.Watzlawick, J. Helmick Beavin, D.D.Jackson (1967), op. cit.; within which, the three scholars, belonging to the "Mental Research Institute" of Palo Alto, apply the theory of communication to the study of personal interactions.

[27]The need for a reflection on ethics is felt even more urgently within the (global) information system, a crucial sector for the life of modern democratic systems. In a historical moment in which globalizing impulses have become irresistible and in which the universe of newsable events is in the hands of a few large international news agencies, it is not clear why one should not try to reflect on the possibility of formulating some shared ethical principles that have a perspective universal. It must be reaffirmed that the hybrid and differentiated context of the world-system unmasks once again a basic ambiguity, which punctually presents itself when topics of this type are addressed: the almost positivistic certainty that all problems of journalistic ethics or, in any case, of ethics of information can be solved by existing written rules alone. Rules written and imposed "from above"; rules which, moreover, in some cases constitute restrictions on the freedom to inform and be informed and which, too often, end up being violated. The extraordinary power of information to decree the universe "knowable" and worthy of attention for the multitudes requires complementary solutions of another kind. Information that is internationalized "on line" requires sensitivity and in-depth skills. Even at this level, any principles should be discussed and accepted only after a dialectical confrontation between the protagonists, a confrontation that in this era can only be transnational. In the modern "information society" (and knowledge), thanks to new information technologies, all social actors– and not just journalists or the so-called average-men– and groups are potential news producers (and no longer just "simple" consumers). In this regard, it is becoming more and more complicated – not to say, in many cases, practically impossible – the checking the reliability of sources. So are the old deontological codes sufficient to embrace the current modalities of communicative practice and the complexity of the new spheres of symbolic production? Evidently the answer is negative: the "old" deontologies and the "old" codes, born as an attempt to make scientific ("exact", "positive") some moral principles (ideal) considered fundamental, seem to have entered a crisis. Put more explicitly, the attempt to make morality an "exact" science appears increasingly doomed to failure. And it is no coincidence that both in the important Resolution No. 1003, adopted by the Council of Europe (1 July 1993) and relating to the ethics of journalism, and in Charter of duties of the journalist (signed in Rome on 8 July 1993) reference is made in several points - for the first time and with particular emphasis - to the fundamental concept of "responsibility", inextricably linked to the freedom of individuals. In fact, the 1993 Charter clearly and unequivocally states that "The responsibility of journalists towards citizens always prevails over any other" and that "The relationship of trust between the media and citizens is the basis of work of every journalist". As regards, more specifically, the Italian context, it must be said that it is precisely from this point of view that some documents of self-discipline (Only 24 hours in 1987 and the Republic in 1990) which unfortunately are often disregarded, in the name of right/duty to report and the "completeness" of the information. However, with greater consciousness of the complexity of the issues in question, we begin to take note of the urgent need to reflect on some founding ethical principles; We repeat for the umpteenth time that speaking only of "written rules" (imposed), of inviolable rights and duties no longer makes sense or, at least, written codes must be integrated by working hard on the awareness of the consequences – and therefore on the training of the "new" journalists - which the information and communication processes involve, by now, on a global level. See GMFara, Ethics and information, Vallecchi, Florence 1992; N.Delai, A.Papuzzi, G.Piana, Information/communication. Many subjects for a mass-media ethics, Citadel, Assisi 1997.

[28] See F. Ferrarotti, A faith without dogmas, Laterza, Rome_Bari 1990; in this line of thought there are also those who emphasize the concept of "civil religion": GERusconi, Can we do without a civil religion?, Laterza Rome-Bari 1999.

[29] See E.Morin, É.-R.Ciurana, DRMotta (2003), Éduquer pour l'ère planétaire.La pensée complexe comme Méthode d'apprentissage dans l'erreur et l'incertitude humaines,, Educating for the planetary age. Complex thinking as a learning method, Armando, Rome 2004.



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