Societal Transformation from an Agrarian to a Knowledge Society

In this post, I will try to explore the societal transformation from an Agrarian to a Knowledge society as a result of major technological advances and scientific discoveries. I will also try to explore the impact it had on the fabric of the social system. Towards the end, I will discuss the major characteristics of the Information and Knowledge Society.

An agrarian society, as the name suggests, is a society that relies for its sustenance on the cultivation of crops by using ploughs and animals (Bidyarthi Dutta). This is a primitive form of human society. About 6,000 years ago, the plough was invented. This invention is considered so significant that it is known as the agricultural revolution. This was much needed technical advancement.

Being an agricultural economy with limited production and dominance of Parochialism, communication was limited between human communities, and most individuals would not see or hear beyond their village.

With the industrial revolution, change in agrarian practices first occurred in England in the 18th century. This revolution then later spread to the rest of Europe, Asia, and the United States. The industrial revolution had a profound effect on the social, economic, and cultural conditions of society. Average income, and the population started to show sustained growth. The economy started to drift towards becoming a machine-based manufacturing economy instead of manual labour and draft-animal based. Changes in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and technology brought big changes directly impacting the fabric of the social system. Society gradually shaped into a new form with the division of labour and dependence on large-scale production facilities. Society began to use external energy sources like fossil fuels to increase the rate and scale of production. As the population grows, industrial society makes urbanization desirable concentrating the population around the centres of production.

Industrial societies are generally mass societies and may be succeeded by an Information society leading to a knowledge society.

The term Knowledge society was first used by Peter Druker in 1969. The growth of knowledge networks leads to the inception of the knowledge society, which is about building and applying knowledge for human development. Bridging the digital divide between have, and have-nots is a big challenge for the knowledge society. Information is knowledge generating tool and, in many cases, is a commodity, i.e. it is bought and sold. Knowledge is now the primary source of wealth creation.

Let us discuss some of the characteristics of the information and knowledge society.

The information society aims to achieve a competitive reward internationally using Information Technology (IT). In this society, wealth is created by economic exploitation of understanding of knowledge. The world’s technological capacity to store information has grown from exabytes to petabytes and growing further in a sustainable way. The invention of printing led to the information explosion. Quantitative changes in the information bring a qualitatively new sort of social system.

The global information society is meaningful only if it is capable of developing knowledge societies and aligns itself towards human development based on human rights. Huge technological changes have influenced the means of knowledge creation in recent times. The recent shift to social media channels for content creation and distribution is an example we see on day to day basis which shows the paradigm shift in content creation by the masses.


Dutta, Bidyarthi. (2014). Different landmarks on the way from industrial to knowledge society: a holistic view/ Bidyarthi Dutta.

Drucker, P. F., & Drucker, P. F. (1993). Post-capitalist society. Routledge.

Lal, R., Reicosky, D. C., & Hanson, J. D. (2007). Evolution of the plow over 10,000 years and the rationale for no-till farming. Soil and Tillage Research, 93(1), 1-12.

McClelland, P. D. (1997). Sowing modernity: America’s first agricultural revolution. Cornell University Press.

Michael K. Buckland (1991). Information as a thing. Journal Of the American Society For Information Science

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