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Malaysian Technological Elite: Specifics of a Knowledge Society in a Developing Country

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For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

There is a lack of understanding of the forms of knowledge and expertise in so-called developing societies such as Malaysia. This paper addresses this issue by suggesting a framework—based on Schutz and Luckmann's (1973) concept of social distribution of knowledge and Knorr Cetina's (1999) notion of epistemic communities—for examining the Malaysian automotive and information technology industries. These industries are central to Malaysia's agenda of becoming a knowledge society in the context of Vision 2020. Vital to these industries is a group of Malaysian professionals who possess knowledge and expertise: the “technological elite.” is group, the technological elite, includes, but is not limited to, engineers working for Proton, as well as professionals working in the Multimedia Super Corridor. Using professional biographies and narratives, this paper illuminates the context and culture of knowledge in Malaysia. Similarities in the principles that inform epistemic practices and relations within an “old” industry (i.e., automotive) and a “new” industry (i.e., ICT) call for the recognition of epistemic work characterized by the mixing of specialist knowledge with other forms of knowledge, and of localized knowledge in nascent epistemic communities with knowledge developed from an established tradition of technological practice.

Affiliations: 1: Sociology and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines;, Email:


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