Post-Industrial Societies

In sociology, the post-industrial society is the stage of society’s development when the service sector generates more wealth than the manufacturing sector of the economy. According to Daniel Bell (2019, p. 44), the post-industrial society is a society in which business is no longer the predominant element but one in which the intellectual is predominant. A manufacturing society is comprised of people working in construction, textiles, mills and production workers whereas, in the service sector, people work as teachers, doctors, lawyers, and retail workers. In a post-industrial society, there is a vast new array of conglomerations of universities, research institutes, and research corporations.

Information, services, and advanced technology are more important in post-industrial societies than manufacturing tangible goods. As the name suggests, a post-industrial society follows an industrialized society, which focuses on mass producing goods with the aid of machinery. Post-industrialization can easily be seen in places like Europe and the United States, which were affected by the Industrial Revolution before other places around the world. The United States was the first country to have more than fifty per cent of its workers employed in service sector jobs.

Characteristics of Post-Industrial Society

The term post-industrial was first popularized by American sociologist Daniel Bell when he wrote The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting in 1973. In this book, Bell describes six changes that are associated with post-industrial societies.

1. There is a shift away from producing goods to creating services. Production of goods (like clothing and shoes) declines while the production of services (like fast food and fitness coaching) increases. Direct manufacturers of goods are few.

2. Blue-collar, manual labour jobs (like assembly line workers and welders) are replaced with professional and technical jobs (like doctors and computer analysts).

3. There is a transition to a focus on theoretical knowledge over practical know-how. Theoretical knowledge leads to the creation of new, innovative solutions, like how knowledge created by doctors has led to new, effective models of patient care.

4. There is an increased focus on the implications of new technologies, when and how they should be used, and when and how to control them.

5. The need increases for the creation of new scientific disciplines like cybernetics and information technology to assess the impact of the new technologies.

6. There is a critical need for higher education institutions like universities to create graduates who can develop and control the next wave of technological advances.

Post-industrial society differs from industrial society

The difference between an industrial to a post-industrial society has been a profound and multifaceted shift that has transformed the economic, social and cultural landscape of modern civilization.

Industrial Society:

1. Labor and Production: The labour in industrial society is predominantly physical, involving manual work in factories and mass production. The focus is on creating labour-saving devices to substitute capital for labour.

2. Economic Focus: The economy is centred around the production of goods and commodities. High volumes of standardized products are produced at low costs to meet consumer demands.

3. Technology Use: Industrial societies emerged during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, transforming agrarian communities into industrialized urban centres. Technology facilitates mass production, supporting large communities with a high potential for the division of labour.

4. Social Structure: These societies replaced pre-modern agricultural communities and are often described as mass societies due to their scale and structure.

Post-Industrial Society:

1. Labor and Production: In post-industrial society, labour shifts from physical to mental. Knowledge becomes the cornerstone for invention and innovation, creating added value and saving capital.

2. Economic Focus: The economy transitions from goods production to service provision. The focus is on delivering customized solutions with high automation, speed, and flexibility, emphasizing information and service over material goods.

3. Technology Use: Technology and knowledge play a more significant role in economic and social activities. Post-industrial societies are characterized by their reliance on information technologies and digital platforms.

4. Social Structure: This phase of societal development prioritizes growth in services, learning, and research. Information societies, a subset of post-industrial societies, base their economies on the production of information and services.

By understanding these differences, one can grasp the transitions societies undergo from industrial to post-industrial stages, highlighting the evolution in economic activities, labour nature, production methods, and technological roles.

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