Compartmentalization of Knowledge

From civicintelligence
The Tower of Babel, in the bible, kept people from different groups from being able to communicate with each other, effectively halting their collective progress.


Knowledge is effectively compartmentalized (or put into "compartments") when different people not only have access to certain types of knowledge but are actually denied formally or via social norms or personal preferences from going beyond their allowable sphere.[1]

Compartmentalizing knowledge has several effects. For one thing it prevents people from having a holistic view. (And since many of the phenomena that now exist can only be "understood" when several viewpoints and perspectives from various sets of knowledge.) Also, as in the Tower of Babel story in the Bible, it keeps people from different knowledge camps from communicating with each other. Finally it implicitly designates certain types of knowledge as "off limits" to some people, thus locking them out of any conversations which employed or built on the knowledge that was forbidden to them.

How it Works

Compartmentalizing knowledge takes different shapes in different times and places. One of the more obvious examples are academic departments in colleges or universities.



Denialism: When people don't have access to, or don't trust, the knowlege out there it becomes easier to be practice Denialism.

Forbidden Knowledge: Forbidden Knowledge is sort of the industrial sized version of Compartmentilization fo Knowledge.

Consumerism: The Consumerism pattern works with the Compartmentalization of Knowledge Pattern because when people don't have a holistic view of consumerism they are likely to not care as much about the side effects of consumerism.


  1. Mergel, Ines. "The use of social media to dissolve knowledge silos in government." The future of public administration, public management, and public service around the world (2011).