Post-industrial society  

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“Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.” -- Charles Jencks
Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.” -- Charles Jencks

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A post-industrial society is a society in which an economic transition has occurred from a manufacturing based economy to a service based economy, a diffusion of national and global capital, and mass privatization. The prerequisite to this economic shift is the processes of industrialization of liberalization. This economic transition spurs a restructuring in society as a whole.


Daniel Bell popularized the term through his 1974 work The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. Although some have credited Bell with coining the term, French sociologist Alain Touraine published in 1969 the first major work on the post-industrial society. The term was also used extensively by social philosopher Ivan Illich in his 1973 paper Tools for Conviviality and appears occasionally in Leftist texts throughout the mid-to-late 1960s.

The term has grown and changed as it became mainstream. The term is now used by admen such as Seth Godin, public policy PhDs such as Keith Boeckelman, and sociologists such as Neil Fligstein and Ofer Sharone. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton even used the term to describe Chinese growth in a round-table discussion in Shanghai in 1998.

Cultural aspect of post-industrial society

Daniel Bell emphasized the changes to post-industrial society are not merely socially structural and economic; the values and norms within the post-industrial society are changed as well. Rationality and efficiency become the paramount values within the post-industrial society. Eventually, according to Bell, these values cause a disconnect between social structures and culture. Most of today's unique modern problems can be generally attributed to the effects of the post-industrial society. A large number of people may find themselves with no clearly defined role. These problems are particularly pronounced where the free-market dominates. They can include economic inequality, the outsourcing of domestic jobs, etc.

The post-modern and post-marxist idea that the economic base (manufacturing and agriculture) and ideological superstructure (art, religion, philosophy, science, etc) are the same thing, akin to a monocoque bodied car (Such as a Hudson Hornet), is a common thread in post-industrial thinking. For example, emphasis on the arts as an important economic sector rather than just a means of exploring spiritual themes and political ideas, or a means of personal expression is a case in point. Actor and artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre, Kevin Spacey, has argued the economic case for the arts in terms of providing jobs and being of greater importance in exports than manufacturing (as well as an educational role) in guest column he wrote for The Times. It can be argued that the creative sector has taken a more prominent role in the wake of manufacturing's decline and that, in some countries, it produces more exports than manufacturing alone.

Another more obvious example of this monocoque argument is the internet. While used for e-commerce and other economic activities, it can also be used to promulgate poetry, give practical advice over being jilted by your boyfriend and inform you of the latest football results as part of the ideological superstructure. They effectively become monocoqued by using the same apparatus and software.

However, this argument of base and superstructure being indistinguishable from each other can also be used retrospectively throughout history. It can be used to argue that pre-Christian fertility cults were economic as well as ideological constructs because their economies were depedent on the fertility they worshipped, especially as they were pre-industrial agrarian economies where food was often scarce.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Post-industrial society" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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