The knowledge society as pleonasm: towards mobilisation of social intelligence in the agricultural and food domain

  • V. BeekmanEmail author
  • H. Dagevos


This paper presents a vision on the future of research and innovation. The kernel of this vision is that the knowledge society of the twenty-first century evolves towards an integration of science and society. Therefore, the word pair ‘knowledge society’ becomes a pleonasm. Times pass for the situation in which knowledge and society are distanced from each other, the knowledge community is only populated by scientists, and the fruits of these bright minds serve the interests of the academic world. This aristocratic episode gets competition from a perspective on research and innovation in which knowledge is not a freestanding goal but a means towards economic growth and corporate competitive power. This ‘American’ approach is present in European research and innovation policies that focus on public-private partnerships in science funding. However, this ‘American’ approach is only an intermediate episode towards a situation in which the distance between science and society is bridged at a more fundamental level. Bridging this distance between science and society is particularly pivotal in the domain of agriculture and food, since food scandals, ethical consumer concerns and the gap between production and consumption call upon socially integrated research and innovation. This urgency is fuelled by the profound nutritional, emotional and ethical values of food for experts and lay people as the co-creators of ethical food consumption. Attention economics calls upon research and innovation to aim at improving present and prospective chances and choices of people and society at large. In the attention economy research and innovation not only serve societal issues but are co-created by societal beneficiaries. This democratisation of research and innovation implies that the knowledge community is fully opened up. Hence, the mobilisation of social intelligence is fundamental to responsible research and innovation in the knowledge society as a learning society. This implies that reducing government intervention in research and innovation processes is a pretty unwise idea.


attention economics responsible research and innovation science in society 


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Copyright information

© Wageningen Academic Publishers 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI)The Haguethe Netherlands

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