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An Uncertain Future: Singapore’s Search for a New Focal Point of Collective Identity and its Drive towards ‘Knowledge Society’

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Having limited land, manpower and natural resources to rest on, Singapore’s government decided in the early 1980s to focus on high-level human resource development, knowledge and creativity for long-term economic growth. The subsequent government actions were often framed under the notion of ‘knowledge society,’ commonly called ‘knowledgebased economy.’ This paper assesses the construction of knowledge society via Singaporean state activities as a social construct of reality that — in Weber’s understanding — orients and motivates actors. It is argued that this construct ‘knowledge society,’ today is not only a technological and economic programme, but furthermore is offered as means to explain and justify economic and social changes that are taking place. Therewith, it is offered as a visionary guide for collective action and a focal point of collective identity reducing feelings of insecurity and uncertainty in Beck’s second modernity.

Affiliations: 1: Center for Development Research, University of Bonn


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