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Post-Industrialism, Summary

Essay Topic:

The sense of economic transformation within the western industrial economies had been present since the 1970s.Some say we are entering into a post-industrial era.That is, leaving behind the the world of industrialism and its imagery – the factories, the heavy machinery and overalled men.

Others say we are looking at one specific form of industry disappearing – that of mass production, a Fordist manufacture.Neo – or post-Fordist society (as another discourse), is all together a different kind of economy; one which is organized around flexible forms of production, which is becoming important as a means of responding to the greater diversity of consumer demand and fragmented market tastes.

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To put it simply, it is a change from a ‘mass’ to a ‘pluralistic’ kind of society. Economies are always in a state of change, but they are less often in the midst of a radical shift in the direction of the economy.What characterizes this radical shift is firstly in its interconnected nature of such changes, what happens in one part of the economy effects upon the rest of the economy. Secondly it implies that a different set of dynamics is driving an economy. For instance, with the rise of post-industrialism, it is claimed that a new kind of dynamic – the generation of knowledge and the control of information, has displaced the dynamics of manufacturing technologies and the making of things.

In this article it introduces 4 main theorists and their characterization of this radical shift of the economy. Post-Industrial SocietyThe idea of a post-industrial society first took hold in the US in the 1960s. Daniel Bell clearly outlined the nature of this transition. He adopted a ‘stages’ model of development which identified three phases of economic progress: a pre-industrial – dominated by agriculture, an industrial – manufacturing and a post-industrial, that he suggests we have entered is dominated by services. According to Bell, the general direction of economic change is towards a service economy. He also suggests the concept of ‘axial principles’ which refers to the mechanisms or dynamics that give shape to an economy.In a post-industrial society, knowledge and information is the driving force that stimulate economic growth, it also takes the form of a final product – reams of information.

Bell also pointed out the consequences of this new economic dynamic. 1. 1. Shift in the kinds of work that people do. From manual, manufacturing jobs to non-manual work in the service sector, where people no longer work upon things but work with each other to deliver a service. 2. 2.

Shift in the occupational structure as manual jobs give way to white-collar and professional occupations. Skills and physical work requiring strength -> ‘think’ work. . 3. The emergence of a new class, the knowledge elites. As knowledge and information are the key sources of a post-industrial society, and they are the ones who control those resources. The intellectual work would be specialized, the new hierarchies of technical elites will be formed alongside the increased professionalization of work and the bureaucratization of ‘think’ work.

Alain Touraine also discussed about the post-industrialism. Like Bell, he also gave central place to the control of knowledge and information and identified the agents of change, the ones with control of knowledge as a ‘technocracy’.However at this point, they differ in their treatment of social conflict. In Touraine’s analysis, there will be a new social divide between technocrats and bureaucrats on one hand, and a range of social groups such as workers, students and consumers on the other hand. This division is because the principal opposition between social group is no longer stem from the ownership and control of private property, but from access to information and its uses. So, the dominant class would have power over the livelihood and lifestyle, not only in the sphere of economic production.Because of this, the social conflict and the social movement in post-industrial society will also be changed to that they are not so related to industry or particular material needs.

New types of social movements such as environmental and feminist movements that are beyond the class politics will take form. Whereas Touraine sees post-industrial society as a setting in which the lack of power among certain social groups provides a basis for new lines of social resistance, Bell identifies a contradiction between the economic and the cultural realms of post-industrialism.While there is still a protestant work ethic, the committed, hard working spirit which also focused on economic efficiency, Bell points out that this is now at odds with the desire for a more hedonistic lifestyle, supported by overall material sufficiency, and the new emerging culturally expressive, individualistic lifestyle of the post-modern culture. The Information Society Daniel Bell is again, a key contributor to the debate of information society, saying that this is a recent expression of post-industrial society.He claimed that the information society rested upon a knowledge theory of value. This means that knowledge has replaced productive labour as the source of value that creates future profits. Here, knowledge and its application is the resource, and this is integrated with the adoption of new information technologies which can reshape the ways we consume and produce, as well as where we perform these activities.

However for Bell, information is regarded more than a resource but also a commodity which can be bought and sold in the market.This leads to the emergence of information occupations – consisting of professional, technical workers concerned with the production, processing and distribution of information. Manuel Castells also draws his opinion on the information-based society. But he argues that information society is not necessarily matching with post-industrial society which the manufacturing sector is being replaced by the service sector. Rather, he identifies the role of knowledge and use of information as the ‘dynamics’ of the coming society. Knowledge, is both the base of production and the outcome of production.That means knowledge, as a resource and commodity in its own right, is a central means of improving economic performance and intensifies the process of economic innovation.

Castells also identified the role of the new technologies enabling multinational companies to operate in new ways. The development of communication technologies, management system and technologies of production gave them opportunities to work in a more ‘footloose’ way. They joined multiple networks with other companies which enabled them to develop products jointly or serve specific markets.What Castells saw here was the concentration of power (information) among a knowledge elite in the corporations. Where, on the one hand, automation of low-skilled jobs especially among the workforce in maufacturing was undergoing. In other words, he distinguished a trend towards the polarization and segmentation of the social structure. The Divided Society Andre Gorz defined the change in the structure of employment and the change in the role of work in the post-industrial society.

He claimed that there is a social division of secure, well-paid workers and a growing mass of the unemployed.In between them are the new post-industiral working class whom the work is no longer meaningful nor of any identity. In his view, the source of the problem is the emergence of new technologies that brought about automation at the workplace. It left the people with no jobs, creating ‘jobless growth’. If this continues, it would decrease the quality of the remaining working class jobs even more. Work in this sense, is just an instrumental activity for the majority. To earn money but with no satisfaction or content.

Here we see a similar picture with that of Castells’s, the segmentation of the workforce.A privileged minority who obtains and controls the information and a casualized and marginalized majority of the working class. Gorz identifies this vision by referring to a society polarized between an emergent ‘servile’ class and a securely employed, professional class. The economic elites can now purchase at low cost the services that they’ve been capable of doing by themselves in the past such as domestic work. So the working class moves in to this service sector to ‘serve’ the economic elites. Their jobs – the new service jobs, lack dignity and are often not even considered as real jobs.And this line of argument by Gorz thus stresses a growing social inequality as a marking feature of post-industrialism.

Conclusion ; Summary Despite the different aspects that these writers each concentrated on, they agree on the fact that post-industrialism signals a number of distinguishing changes. Shift away from industrialism, a shift in the number of manufacturing economies to a service base. The growth of new occupations leading the economy, the white collar, professionals also categorized as knowledge elites. Gorz puts an emphasis here, on the fate of a deskilled working class forced to serve these elites.And the social and economic polarization that is also part of the general direction of the change. Lastly the shift in the types of social movements. From the attention on industrial forms of class politics to something beyond what we call class politics.

Such as the green movement. If we refer to the beginning again, we can see it is not just a change, but a radical shift of the economy – the interconnected nature and changes in the dynamics of the economy. In this case, what all 4 writers agree on is that information and knowledge has become the dynamics, the driving force of our economy.

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