Sociology Index

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Daniel Bell

Daniel Bell (May 10, 1919 – January 25, 2011) was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor at Harvard University, best known for his contributions to the study of post-industrial thesis. Daniel Bell has been described as "one of the leading American intellectuals of the postwar era". Daniel Bell's three best known works are The End of Ideology, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Daniel Bell received a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia in 1961 after he was permitted to submit The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties, a 1960 essay collection, instead of a conventional doctoral dissertation. Daniel Bell was one among distinguished sociologists.

Bell published some of his most acclaimed essays: "Crime as an American Way of Life" (1953), "Socialism: The Dream and the Reality" (1952), "Japanese Notebook" (1958), "Ethics and Evil: Frameworks for Twenty-First Century Culture" (2005), and "The Reconstruction of Liberal Education: A Foundational Syllabus" (2011).

In The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting (1973), Bell outlined a new kind of society, the post-industrial society. He argued that post-industrialism would be information-led and service-oriented. Bell also argued that the post-industrial society would replace the industrial society as the dominant system. There are three components to a post-industrial society, according to Bell: a shift from manufacturing to services, the centrality of the new science-based industries, the rise of new technical elites and the advent of a new principle of stratification.

In The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976), Bell contends that the developments of twentieth-century capitalism have led to a contradiction between the cultural sphere of consumerist instant self-gratification and the demand, in the economic sphere, for hard-working, productive individuals. Bell articulates this through his "three realms" methodology, which divides modern society into the cultural, economic, and political spheres. Bell's concern is that, with the growth of the welfare state throughout the post-war years, more and more of the population demand that the state fulfil the hedonistic desires which the cultural sphere encourages. For Bell, the competing, contradictory demands place excessive strain on the state that was manifest in the economic turbulence, fiscal pressure, and political upheaval characteristic of the 1970s.