Sociology Index


Post-Industrial Thesis is the theory that modern economies in the Western world have moved from a focus on goods producing economy (an industrial base) to a new foundation of knowledge economy and sophisticated services. This new post-industrial economy is assumed to demand different kinds of workers, to allow for more job satisfaction and to foster less labour conflict. The rationale for the post-industrial thesis was announced in Bell's 'The End of Ideology', the text in which he first announced the exhaustion of utopian political ideologies: The end of ideology is not - should not be - the end of utopia as well. We can also characterize the present economy as a post-industrial service economy.

The use of IT has increased the prevalence of the belief that a major social transformation is under way. The post-industrial world is for many Information Technology. When we look at the terms post-industrial society and Information Society the change of emphasis is clear. When it is applied to society, the term post-industrial theory tells us what it used to be, but no longer is. While the manufacture of things was at the centre of the old industrial order, the processing of information will be a crucial feature of its successor. Changes taking place in the occupational structure of the advanced societies should now be regarded as being post-industrial in nature. This post-industrial thesis was contested by its critics, however. They concluded that close scrutiny of the type of evidence put forward in support of the post-industrial thesis revealed deficiencies. They argued from this that the various contentions of the post-industrial thesis were a long way short of being convincingly proven.

'Post-Industrial Society' and the Psychology of the American Far Right, 1950-74.
Kendrick Oliver, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Oct., 1999)

Managing Professionals: Ideological Proletarianization and Post-Industrial Labor 
Charles Derber, Theory and Society, Vol. 12, No. 3 (May, 1983), pp. 309-341

The post-industrial society as developed by Daniel Bell has been criticised by many sociologists. As a contrast to Daniel Bell's outline of the problems which will face in an information society, we will introduce the views of Castell's on Information society; the Network Society POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY AND THE INFORMATION SOCIETY.

The post-industrial thesis would particularly highlight the following causes, all of which it regards as being closely linked to one another within the context of post-industrial change: the emergence of a post-industrial society, the decline of working-class mobilisation networks and the decline of traditional middle-class mobilisation networks and the growth of leisure-based advocacy and single issue campaign networks.

Bell, D. (1962) The End of Ideology: on the exhaustion of political ideas in the fifties. N.Y.: Free Press.
Bell, D. (1967) ‘Notes on the Post-Industrial Society (Pt 1)’. The Public Interest 6: 24-35.
Bell,D. (1989) ‘Communication Technology: for Better or for Worse?’. In The Information Society: economic, social, and structural issues. Ed J.Salvaggio, Hillsdale, N.J.: LEA.
Bell,D. (1999a) The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. N.Y. Basic Books. First published 1973.
Bell,D. (1999b) The Axial Age of Technology: foreword 1999’. In Bell (1999a).