The Goal Of Educaton In Knowledge Society


Based on the fact that today humanity takes the first steps to the knowledge society, the paper raises the problem of goal-setting in an educational institution under transit conditions. The author considers that the becoming reality opens both unprecedented opportunities (a free choice of forms and ways of an individual’s activity), and unprecedented threats (spiritual and physical degradation) for the person. In this regard, the paper considers the question: which personal qualities will be in demand in the emerging world, which of the visions of the "person of the future" meets the interests of both the human race and the individual development. The aim of the paper is to discover those constitutional features of the personality, the formation of which an educational institution has to focus its efforts on, in the medium and long term ahead. The achievement of this goal is ensured by using a methodology that integrates the research tools of different social sciences and humanities (world-system approach by I. Wallerstein, the theory of modernization, the concept of "knowledge society", the systematic-holistic approach to the study and design of pedagogical reality). In the context of the knowledge society (post – industrial/postmodern society) formation various models of the transit subject are considered, the correspondence of one of them – "homo creator" - to the interests of both the individual and the society development is argued. Attributive features of this individual subject (personality) are post-materialistic motivation and craving for creativity (activity, driven by internal, non-economic interest and aimed at finding something new).

Keywords: Knowledge societypost-materialistic motivationcreativity


On the border of II – III Millennium the humanity is entering a new stage of its development. In science, it is often marked with such terms as "informational", "postmodern", "post-industrial society" or "knowledge society". At this stage, "live labor" is increasingly being replaced by artificial bio-automatic technology, which opens up both unprecedented opportunities and unprecedented threats to a person. On the one hand, the person, freed from material dependence, gets a chance to take up creativity – an activity driven not by external but internal motivation. Yet on the other hand, getting rid of thousands of years of "curse" – labor – creates the danger of human degradation, its descent to the animal level (due to the use of more and more free time available for the forms and activities that lead to the world of idleness, narcotic and virtual illusions, etc.).

Problem Statement

In this regard, the role of education, which is a tool for saving the human race, the institute of "transnational security", is growing dramatically. Inevitably, there is a need to formulate such a goal-setting of this institution, which will allow a person to avoid these threats and risks and, consequently, to realize the opportunities offered to the individual by the emerging socio-cultural reality.

Research Questions

Accordingly, teachers-practitioners and educators-scientists, politicians and public figures face the following questions. What personal qualities will be in demand in the world which dawn is rising today on the planet? Which of the visions of the "person of the future" meets the interests of both the human race and the individual development?

Answers to these questions are sought by representatives of various branches of social and humanitarian knowledge: teachers and psychologists, philosophers and sociologists, historians and culturologists, economists and political scientists. Their publications can be conventionally combined into two large groups. To the first belong the literature works investigating the nature of the "new world" emerging in our eyes (D. Bell, G. Bechmann, P. Weingart, P. Drucker, V. L. Inozemtsev, M. Castells, R. Lane, F. Machlup, N. Stehr, etc.).

The authors of papers and monographs use different terms to fix the quality of the emerging reality. In our opinion, the most accurate and heuristic of them is the term "knowledge society". As once formulated by Bell (1999): today, "first, research and development are increasingly becoming the source of innovation; secondly, the progress of society... more and more is uniquely determined by the progress in the sphere of knowledge" (p. 188). As Bechmann (2010) put it right, it is the knowledge which "permanently creates new opportunities for actions, becoming the basis and motor of progressive change" (p. 50). In fact, it becomes the main resource of development (Drucker, 1996, p. 114). The second group of works includes the research of scientists-humanists, which directly raises the question of designing the subject of the "new world". Publications by V. S. Avtonomov, A. V. Buzgalin, E. O. Burcikov, R. Inglehart, S. V. Ivanova, V. L. Inozemtsev, K. Laval, V. E. Lepsky, G. M. Malashkhiy, N. V. Nalivaiko, V. V. Serikov, A. N. Sorochaykin, V. I. Suprun and other authors identify objective trends in socio-cultural processes. In this regard, a number of researchers are considering a possible strategy for the development of education (Artashkina, 2018; Ivanova & Bokova, 2017; Mukhin, 2018; Nalivaiko & Fotina, 2017).

In some works, directly or implicitly, the ideals and goals of conscious inculturation are evaluated, as indicated in the theoretical constructions of some thinkers of the XVIII – XX centuries (A. Smith, G. S. Batitshev, K. A. Helvétius, W. Sombart, E. V. Ilyenkov, K. M. Cantor, B. Mandeville, K. Marx, E. Fromm, etc.). Analysis of publications in the humanities leads us to conclude that there are three alternative models of the subject of the contemporary socio-cultural transition: homo economicus, homo innovaticus and homo creator.

Purpose of the Study

In order to find out which of these models allows to choose an effective strategic course for an educational institution in the 21st century, we will analyze these theoretical constructs from the point of view of their compliance with the interests of the humanistic future of mankind. This intention allows us to determine the purpose of our study as follows: to identify the constitutional features of the personality, the formation of which an educational institution should focus its efforts on, in the medium and long term.

Research Methods

To achieve this goal, we will use the methodology that integrates the research tools of different Social Sciences and Humanities: the world-system approach of Wallerstein (2003, 2008), the theory of modernization, the concept of "knowledge society" and a systematic-holistic approach to the study and design of pedagogical reality. The application of this interdisciplinary methodology allows us to look at the projected subject of the knowledge society in the context of global trends in human development and to formulate the following statements. First, modern education is both a condition and a result of socio – cultural transition (from industrial to post-industrial, from traditional to modern/innovative society, acquiring new quality at the turn of the 20th - 21st centuries: knowledge is necessarily transformed into action (Giddens, 1990)).

Secondly, the nascent knowledge society is not some ideal world of general well-being, but a reality in which the previously formed three-level organization of the world-system remains beneficial to the countries in its core (centers of economic and technological power) (Wallerstein, 2003, 2008). Third, knowledge in this world is constantly falsified, being updated in a short time, and ceases to be the truth, being considered by individuals as a resource for development. Fourth, the formation of the knowledge society subject happens "through the construction of the educational process as a system of aesthetic and anthropological practices, elevating pupils above the commonplace of existence" based on "a synthesis of knowledge about the educational reality, the resulting overlay of "the net of different approaches" onto it ..." (Serikov, 2016, p. 212, 206).

Let us look through the above-mentioned "methodological prism" at the alternative models of the knowledge society subject offered to the education system for implementation


The collapse of the rule of mono-ideology in 1991 allowed the Russian humanitarian scientists to get fully integrated into the world humanities and social science sphere, to abandon the ideologically biased positions, including, in relation to the phenomenon researchers refer to as to the "economic man". The increased attention to the latter at the turn of 20th - 21st centuries was explained by at least two reasons. The first was the natural interest of Russian scientists in the phenomenon that once was of purely academic interest to them. As a subject of private property society, "homo economicus" was previously perceived as a relic of the "capitalist past", and therefore the mention of it in the Soviet periodicals had mainly a negative connotation. The second reason for the Russian researchers’ appeal in the II–III millennium to the above-described model personality emerged from the first one: "economic man" seemed to be the best fit for the emerging socio-economic structure – a market-type society.

However, it was immediately discovered that even modern economists did not have a common understanding of its essential features. This prompted Machlup (1972) to say that "homo economicus (oeconomicus)" remains largely a metaphorical expression (p. 113). Efremov (2015) disagreed with him: he believed that the model has a very specific embodiment in social practices, producing its diverse variations, depending on cultural differences between communities. The scientist believes that this model allows "to determine the dominant models of economic behavior in a particular society, as well as the value-motivational systems corresponding to these models" (pp. 151 – 152). The analysis of the publications of the last quarter of the century prompts us to agree with this statement. Indeed, scientists are modeling homo economicus not by speculative constructions, but through the study of “physiology” of the actual market society and through fixation of the subject ethos.

However, the researchers, converging in the main thing — the priority of personal interest in motivating the activities of homo economicus, — do not coincide when stating the "nomenclature" of its basic features and their ranking. Yet, as a rule, among the qualities determined by them we find: independence, rationality, extreme individualism, etc. Authors of some works do not hide their negative attitude to the "economic man", since, in their opinion, “all psychological and spiritual motivations and qualities not related to economic activity are removed from this model” (Kovshov, 2012, p. 91). For example, Weise (1993) is not inclined to idealize homo economicus. The scientist notes: "He calculates the expected value of the relevant indicators and makes rational decisions: to commit or not to commit such actions as breach of obligations, fraud, theft, divorce, tax evasion, insult, murder, etc." (Weise, 1993, p. 120).

The analysis of the scientists’ works (I. Wallerstein, W. Sombart, D. Riesman, E. Fromm, etc.) shows that homo economicus was not artificially bred by a teacher-experimenter in the corresponding "greenhouses", but turned out to be a product of the socio-cultural evolution of the West. As Laval (2010) expressed it, "Homo Economicus" born in the bosom of this civilization – "is the firm that produces the necessary strategic information manages its risk and tries to maximize its satisfaction everywhere" (p. 363). Let us add that the "excessive individualism" of homo economicus turns out to be, in the end, a product not so much of capitalism as of two and a half thousand years of development of the western socio-cultural organism (Berger, 1994, p.124).

It is the latter which gave rise to a man, who does not "focus on tradition" that much (characteristic of traditional societies), but rather "focus on oneself” (involving a sense of personal responsibility) (Riesman, Glazer, & Denney, 1989). This orientation, as noted by D. Riesman acquired from childhood, is then interiorized by the individual and becomes a guide throughout life. Thus, scientists call economic rationality to be the main characteristic of the modern homo economicus. And "rationality" in this case does not mean "reasonableness", "adequacy of the situation", but compliance with the interests of preservation and survival of the individual.

Frankly speaking, the purposefulness of the "economic man" evokes quite understandable sympathy among many of our contemporaries. His other qualities stemming from the rationalism of the subject – initiative and responsibility, reluctance to rely on the case, "maybe" and probably", on "good government" – contrast sharply with the features of a "traditional Russian", marked by Russian thinkers as "oblomov-style" and "manilov-style". However, we believe that homo economicus should not become a reference point for education in the knowledge society. Our judgment follows from the fact that in the coming society of knowledge the subject-object interactions of the industrial era (between man and nature, its material entities) are to be replaced with subject-subject interactions (between people about knowledge, inseparable from any individual).

Its subjects are not driven by the desire for economic success, but by the desire to self-actualize. The emerging "game among people", in the words of Bell (1976), is initiated not by economic necessity, but by intellectual curiosity, the desire to realize their natural inclinations (creativity). In the context of this trend, the "economic man" is the subject of society, going back to the past – of the industrial civilization (pp. 147-148). And, therefore, to focus education on its formation means to reproduce the model of personality, albeit effective, but still of yesterday.

In addition, moral behavior has "value for homo economicus to the extent in which it brings him/her some economic benefits", while honesty and moderation are virtues only if "they act as a guarantor of creditworthiness and financial solvency of the individual" (Sorochaykin, 2012, p. 104). As noted by Becker (1987), the desire to maximize the function of wealth and utility distinguishes the behavior of homo economicus even when making decisions on a variety of non–economic issues: marriage, childbirth, attitude to health, etc. (p. 3-17).

Based on the above, we believe that the purpose of education in the knowledge society should be a type of personality, fundamentally different from the "economic man" – namely, a model construct, whose main constitutional feature is the internal motivation of activity. We believe that the term "homo creator" most accurately captures the named quality, since it is creativity that acts as the activity that aims at non-economic interest. We emphasize that homo creator is not a product of scientists' fantasies, but a subject maturing during the modern society development. In the foreground in this value system, according to Inglehart's (2008) researches, such fundamental motives of life activity as personality autonomy and its self-expression appear (under the influence of transformations taking place in the leading industrial countries since the end of the 1960s). The birth of such a person, guided by post (over)materialistic motivation, was predicted by many thinkers-humanists of the last two centuries: G. S. Batishchev, E. V. Ilyenkov, K. M. Cantor, K. Marx, E. Fromm. They distinguished such qualities as a tendency to co-creation, respect for Others, dissatisfaction with stagnation, critical thinking, etc. (Novikov, 2017, 2018).

However, scientific literature representatives offer another model of the subject of the now-emerging society. Some scientists prefer to call it innovative because it is like no other, "imbued with the spirit of innovation”, discoveries and technological breakthroughs, which not only increased quantitatively, but also changed qualitatively (Innovatsionnyy chelovek i innovatsionnoye obshchestvo, 2012, p. 9). Based on this, a number of researchers capture the birth of an innovative person, driven by the desire to realize his/her potential, able to understand that "change is an integral and important part of social development." The program of life activity (culture) of this person "is not based on the generally accepted definitions and authorities, on the general pseudo-agreement, does not rest on disciplinary boundaries but is focused on knowledge going wide, not deep, i.e. the main thing is not specialization (the so-called set of competencies), but the ability of "network" thinking and covering a larger area of knowledge" (Innovatsionnyy chelovek i innovatsionnoye obshchestvo, 2012, p. 18, 23, 24).

While some authors emphasize that "innovative people" are inclined, above all, to creativity (Veselova & Artemieva, 2014; Ganaba, 2013) while others (Delokarov & Lubina, 2013; Drugova, 2013; Islamautdinov & Shangaraev, 2011) – allocate its focus on profit.

It turns out that researchers often use the term "homo innovatisus" to mark either a phenomenon that we might well designate as "homo economicus" or as "homo creator". We share the position formulated by V. L. Inozemtsev: "... the concept of an innovative person is mixed with the concept of a creative person. <...> Innovations are the basis of modern economics; creativity is an inherent quality of post-economic society, a phenomenon which to the greatest extent undermines the fundamental principles of a traditional economic system" (Innovatsionnyy chelovek i innovatsionnoye obshchestvo, 2012, p. 80). We can say that the model of homo innovatisus is "just" a modern invariant of homo economicus, which is not focused on a radical change in the world towards creating conditions for the full disclosure of the quality that distinguishes man from all other living beings – the desire for creativity. Only if an educational institution implements the homo creator model it allows to ensure the development of truly human in a man, the breakthrough of the entire planetary community into the world of high technology, freedom and creativity.


Summing up, we present the main conclusions. 1. Objective trends in the development of mankind give rise to the need for the formation of a subject capable of making the transition to a knowledge society (post-industrial society). 2. The qualities of this individual subject (personality) are formed by post - materialistic motivation and structured by the craving for creativity — an activity driven by internal, non-economic interest and aimed at finding a new one. 3. Education in the run – up to the knowledge society should not be aimed at the organizational restructuring of the system of purposeful socialization and not at the preparation of an "effective manager", "economic man" or "innovative man", but at the cultivation of a person, designated by us as "homo creator" - ready and capable of free activity, which allows it to rise above its own nature and implement the consciously chosen life strategy.


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Novikov*, S. G. (2019). The Goal Of Educaton In Knowledge Society. In S. K. Lo (Ed.), Education Environment for the Information Age, vol 69. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 590-597). Future Academy.