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What is the nature of information? What is its role in Contemporary Cosmopolitan Civil Society? What is the basis for the widespread current belief that we live in an ‘information society’? The present article will examine these questions through an examination of the historical origins of established ‘scientized’ views of information in the philosophy of the Enlightenment. It describes how postmodern and poststructuralist critique of such positivist approaches led to profound paradigmatic and methodological shifts in the social and information studies fields in recent decades. It consider how the emergence of social constructivist approaches to information research drawing on discourse analysis, practice theory and ethnographic theories and methodologies has led to a have led researchers to a radically different understanding of central concepts such as: the influence of emergent information and communication technologies on contemporary society; the relationship between knowledge and power, the nature of expertise and authoritative information; a re-thinking of community and consensus; a re-interpretation of notions of space and place in information dissemination, sharing and use and a reconsideration of the role of the researcher. The article illustrates this changing research landscape through reference to the work of scholars in the Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, published in the Centre’s journal.
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