Expertocracy: Information And Power In The Knowledge Society


The current state of society is defined as a "knowledge society" in the meaning of time, marked by an extraordinary growth, spread and penetration of information resources into all spheres of our life. This type of society is also characterized by the dominance of knowledge, professionalism, expertise as the super value ​​of a modern person being. Thus, we find ourselves in a completely new paradigm of social development where information flows are sharply accelerating and diverging in all directions. It leads to a significant increase of the role and importance of experts and expertise, to the expansion of functional tasks and the formation of an expertocracy as a new institution of power and thinking of the present and future. However, the near future is quite capable to present a fundamentally innovative task to the new institute of experts: the amount of information that a person has mastered in the past is already becoming unsuitable for use. The proposed work is devoted to the analysis of the formation of the expert style of thinking and expertocracy itself as an institution of power in a changing post-industrial (super-informational) society.

Keywords: Expertocracyhumanitarian and social technologiesphilosophy of educationstyle of thinkingsocial reality


The term "expertocracy" is a transdisciplinary concept that has recently entered and has not yet taken root in the scientific community as a well-established term, it does not have an unambiguously perceived connotation. The formation of an institution of expertise with a sharply increasing role of expert thinking in all spheres of human and social life is a quite distinct event or phenomenon that marks modernity in ontological, social, anthropological and cultural dimensions.

An extraordinary growth and penetration of information flows into all spheres of our life calls and obliges to master the competencies of holding expertise. Despite the fact that the main task of an expert is still the development of unique, creative, innovative solutions or algorithms, but now they are based not on experience, professionalism, knowledge, diplomas, etc, received over many years of education and professional activity. Now the expert must have developed the skills of the fastest and most accurate orientation in the information space, the ability to find the shortest algorithm of effective action in the abundant sea of ​​information. An important quality required from an expert is the algorithmic thinking. In this regard it is necessary to concretize the discourse of the humanities and social sciences about expertise and power that has begun in recent decades, clarifying the opportunities and threats that the humanitarian sphere, the sphere of education is experiencing in connection with the formation of a new government institution (Anderson et al., 2018; Romanenko & Romanenko, 2018). The amount of expert's knowledge should increase, adapting to changes in the environment, but it is paradoxically that by the time a sufficient level of expertise is accumulated, the knowledge turns out to be de-actualized. In this sense investing efforts in the constant accumulation and expansion of knowledge, erudition from the requirements for the effective work of an expert becomes irrelevant and simply loses its meaning. The key skill of an expert is the ability to find answers to questions as quickly as possible (just "here and now") as well as the ability to build effective action relying on upon quickly received and regularly updated information with a "short life cycle" of relevance.

Problem Statement

It should be mentioned that natural science and technical expertise in this regard (in contrast to the humanitarian and social) do not undergo a radical breakdown and significant change at the beginning of the XXI century. Their factuality and empirical evidence are not particularly subject to intellectual and manipulative speculation, they are also not accused of being theoretically "loaded". At the same time, social and political and managerial expertise, expertise in the field of education, on the contrary, turn out to be the most dependent on information speculation (Puyu, 2011). The field of humanitarian knowledge is directly related to "simulacra" and "discourses of power-knowledge" of the symbolic world of a particular historical era, it is directly related to the world of ideas and meanings. The life of a person and society is more and more virtualized, the information environment has already become a natural field for the education and upbringing of the individual. "Digital natives" in the framework of the theory of generations are our students, whose childhood and youth were shaped by the information environment, the Internet, social networks and applications (Romanenko et al., 2018). In this regard experts working in the field of social design and humanitarian development of the individual need to acquire new professional skills and competencies that allow effective use of information and computer resources as well as to understand and use actively all the possibilities of new decision-making authority in the knowledge society - experts, opinion leaders, influencers(users who are influenced) (Shipunova & Kuznetsov, 2015).

Research Questions

It is necessary to pay special attention to the paradoxical fact that, despite all the colossal philosophical, anthropological and socio-psychological experience of the 20th century, a huge number of publications describing various aspects of human behaviour in different structures of interpersonal, social and network interaction, today we are forced to state the fact of the systemic crisis of an integrated approach in studying anthropological problems in the emerging knowledge society (Romanenko et al., 2018). This situation can be designated as a crisis, the foundations of which are rooted in the change of the ontological status of a person under the influence of the sharply increased role of the technical and technological civilization of the super-information society. This is what J.L. Nancy understands when he is talking about the senselessness, the impossibility of trying to define comprehensively a person as a "digital aborigine" (Nancy, 2008). The essential and existential characteristics used earlier have developed their heuristic resources, respectively, it turns out to be impossible to assert the essence of a person. In the same context, M. Foucault's approach is considered which postulates the "death of the subject" - a person is determined by new structures of sociality, now it is impossible to assert his subjectivity and authenticity.

Purpose of the Study

We proceed from the heuristic and methodological soundness of the Stehr's approach (as cited in Stehr & Grundmann, 2011). We’ll try in the article, starting from the paradigm proposed by the researcher, to determine the basic constants and characteristics of the knowledge society as the paradigmatic basis of a new (modern) stage of socio-economic and ideological development. It is the topic of the “knowledge society” that actualizes the role and significance of expertise as a key factor in changes of the processes of production, receipt, transmission and consumption of knowledge and information:

- The growing role of society's science and approaches to the problem of man (Fukuyama, 1992), i.e. dissemination of methods, norms, algorithms, principles of understanding which are peculiar to scientific methodology.

- Neorationalism and "militant scientism" which become the leading ideological principles that determine the criteria according to which knowledge can be considered (proposing criteria for its self-determination). Scientism in this respect formulates the "categorical imperative of the early 21st century": scientific knowledge is synonymous with knowledge in general.

- Formation of an innovative sphere of production, consumption, exchange and distribution of knowledge (algorithmic thinking - knowledge of algorithms, i.e. technological chains that allow building models of effective action in the shortest time - as quick as possible).

- The emergence of new forms of social order for gaining knowledge: educational policy, scientific policy, ideological strategies, political programs, etc. The old trend of the "open knowledge" free from the penetration of the political is becoming a thing of the past.

- Particular attention is paid to technocracy and expertocracy in politics. The features noted by M. Foucault give rise to new types of the discourse of power and the emergence of social institutions of organization and control (for example, the open and electronic government, expert communities, etc.).

- The birth of a new type of "power-knowledge" in philosophy (M. Foucault) and its consolidation in management decisions – that is expertocracy. The formation of a special "stratum" of people who produce precisely expert knowledge - influencers, "business angels", expert communities in the social networks, etc.

- Social inequality marks the differences between people, first of all, according to the criterion of ownership and the ability to use a certain type of knowledge, expressed in abilities, skills and competencies.

It is also necessary to note the contribution of Weingart (1983), along with analyzing the knowledge society and changes on the way to it he mentions the characteristic features that make it possible to state the concept of a “knowledge society” in the meaning of the paradigm of social and anthropological development:

• Striving not for production, but first of all for consumption, practical use and implementation of the knowledge gained. Knowledge is understood here in the most practical sense - "I know to be able to do something". It is this ideological attitude that explains the prevalence and popularity of marathons, courses of regular professional retraining, webinars, the training, etc. Education today is becoming a business where clients determine the value of knowledge.

• The emergence of "corporate science" which interferes in the research sphere of human consciousness and behaviour (cognitive economics, neuromarketing, etc.). Stern sees this tendency as a consequence of "expertocracy", he connects the appearance of new, "non-classical" educational centres with circumstances mentioned above (for example, Sberbank school, etc.).

Research Methods

Methods of comparative, hermeneutic, structural and functional analysis are used in the research. The data of sociological and statistical studies are used in solving specific issues of the implementation of humanitarian expertise in the context of the development of a super-information society (Mureyko et al., 2018). In the course of analyzing the phenomenon of expertocracy from the relationship between information and power in the knowledge society the following methodological approaches are used: paradigmatic, socio-philosophical, epistemological as well as the basic concepts of the "philosophy of everyday life" in which the problem field of social subjects are formed in the situation of the formation of the ideals, the development of value preferences and decision making. The work is a comprehensive study of the activities of the expert community in its connection to the educational environment, therefore, in its implementation, both socio-anthropological methods and data from pedagogical and specific sociological studies are also used (Hug et al., 2005).


Considering the topic of expertise from the standpoint of philosophical analysis, we can conclude that both expert and managerial activities, being subsystems of social activity, creating various types of social reality, also create methods and mechanisms for the production and reproduction of sociality. In this respect, an expert is a “social demiurge”, he doesn’t only satisfy the need of society for knowledge but also forms new social and cognitive practices of social activity and sociality itself. The works of Ashkerov (2009) demonstrate an interesting approach to the problem of expert activity: the expert is regarded as a specialist in the field of assessments and revaluations. He knows what kind of knowledge and decision is valued and how to present it so that it would be properly appreciated and claimed. At the same time, of course, the expert presents a generalized opinion, but he must do this most authentically and uniquely, forming his brand. It should be noted that the more authentic, personalized and unique the generalization performed by an expert, the more the expert corresponds to his status. Further, the expert can act as "the judge" in the field of determining what knowledge should be considered and what it should not be considered. He determines the relevance of information and turns knowledge into a resource, product, service, and, ultimately, into the capital. Thus, expertise can be called monetization of cognitive activity. And finally, according to Ashkerov (2009), an expert is a conductor of information and knowledge from the world of nonsense to the world of meaning and back.

An expert does not pretend to be a scientist, a researcher, his task is not to produce knowledge. The most important function of an expert is to carry out Socratic "scientific ignorance", i.e. to cut off all knowledge that is devoid of functionality, applicability in practice. At the same time, an extraordinary problem today is the crisis of the legitimacy of post-non-classical science which sharply actualized the problem of interaction between experts and expertise with an enthusiastic but completely incompetent audience. The formation and implementation of economic concepts and concepts of the knowledge society in practice change the functioning of the procedure and the objectives of the examination. It is the "useful" knowledge that becomes in demand, i.e. knowledge oriented to practical application, limited by a specific area of ​​application and subordinate to the principle of innovation, i.e. commercial attractiveness and marketability (Giddens, 2000; Herold, 2018). The production of knowledge is involved in the element of the market and exists as a market product. The market strives to include education and science.

In the context of the commercialization and massization of knowledge, the practice of public expertise is developing which is the most important channel of communication and interaction between the community of experts and the authorities. In this regard, complex systems of expertise, expert networks operating in the state allow forming and increase the efficiency of using the potential of knowledge, i.e. national human capital (Castells, 2000). Sociologists Collins (1998) suggested talking about two types of public (interactive) expertise. An expert of the first type functions within the framework of everyday consciousness and everyday “life hacks”, his competence is limited by a set of audience preferences. An expert of the second type has cognitive expertise, he can formulate a problem and possible solutions, he has both theoretical knowledge, practical skills and competencies. At the same time, the assessments of both are effective in the field of innovation where rigid hierarchical structures have not yet formed. In this sense, the movement towards a "knowledge society" and expertocracy includes a whole spectrum of changes (Garafiev, 2016).


Summing up the research outlined in this article it would be appropriate to recall the features of the "new sociality" noted by Castells (2000) in his theory of the "network society": "structures have not yet become dominant," just as industrial societies for a long time included numerous pre-industrial forms of human existence. But all societies of the information age are permeated - with varying intensity - by the ubiquitous logic of the network society whose dynamic expansion "gradually absorbs and subjugates the pre-existing social forms". A fundamentally significant moment in the differentiation of knowledge and information in the context of expertocracy is the weak formalizability of knowledge or the implicitness of its expression. The inability to institutionalize and formalize knowledge leads to the birth of "network expertise". At the same time, there are quite big risks among which we can indicate: the threat of total control over the user from information services and firewalls.

We also note the fact that the amount of unreflected information is increasing in the knowledge society. Verified cognitive maps and semantic schemes of interpreters are required for a correct interpretation, otherwise, it opens the way for various manipulators.

In this sense, the activity of influencers, "business angels", experts in the knowledge society leads to the emergence of new forms of interpersonal, intrasocial or intersocial relations which leads to the formation of a new social paradigm based on the expert knowledge.


The study was supported by a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project № 18-011-00759a "Forming Post-Material Values of Young People in the Educational Space and Youth Subcultures: Socio-Cultural Analytics of the State of Development and Prediction of Social Risks".


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Romanenko, I. B., Bogdanov, S. I., Sultanov, K. V., & Voskresenskiy, A. A. (2020). Expertocracy: Information And Power In The Knowledge Society. In O. D. Shipunova, & D. S. Bylieva (Eds.), Professional Culture of the Specialist of the Future & Communicative Strategies of Information Society, vol 98. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 751-757). European Publisher.