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Communication and Social Policy, Vol. 4 - 1997, No. 4

Creative Destruction? From the Welfare State to the Global Information Society

, pages: 7-24

The intellectual and political assaults on the welfare states of affluent societies are one half of a process of what Joseph Schumpeter calls .creative destruction.. The other half is the social construction of the idea and reality of the global information society. In this essay, the reasoning applied to dismantle the welfare state is examined, with particular attention being paid to its implications for the role of the state as cultural patron and guarantor of rights of access to the means of communication. Also examined are ways in which dominant visions of the information society draw upon the same reasoning that is applied to dismantling the welfare state. Contrary to prevailing mythology, the main trajectory of the development of the global information society is not toward the establishment of a free market, but rather it is aimed at the articulation and enforcement of rights of property ownership on behalf of global media and telecommunication cartels. One response to these decades-long developments has been a movement for a new global constitutionalism aimed at the establishment of global social and cultural policies which would parallel the already welldeveloped efforts to constitutionalise global market principles. The essay reviews some of these efforts.

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