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PUNDIT FOR POST-INDUSTRIAL TIMES? WALTER LIPPMANN AS AN INFORMATION SOCIETY THEORIST

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Walter Lippmann (1889–1974) was perhaps the most prominent pundit of the late-industrial era. His place in the annals of journalism is secure, but his legacy should not stop there. The article argues for a fresh interpretation of Lippmann as an early theorist of the information society. This thesis rests on three propositions. First, in Public Opinion and other less famous books, Lippmann focused productively on the empirical and normative aspects of information's role in a democratic polity. Second, Lippmann's comments upon the nature of social morality, especially his defence of the idea of a universal natural law, are shown to be serviceable for coming to terms with some of the profound challenges and dilemmas of the information age. Third, and decisively, a little-known manuscript, one of Lippmann's final essays, faced directly the issue of technocracy, arguably the paramount threat of the cyber century. The Lippmann corpus, both published and archival, is therefore highly relevant to post-industrial times.
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Keywords: cyberculture; digital divide; e-Democracy; politics; social theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Arts & Creative Industries/Centre for Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University, Craighouse Campus, Craighouse Road Edinburgh, EH 10 5LG, UK, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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