In this collection of revised essays, Bell, a Harvard sociologist who has been promoting the ""post-industrial"" concept for...



In this collection of revised essays, Bell, a Harvard sociologist who has been promoting the ""post-industrial"" concept for about a decade, says we can predict not the future but an agenda of questions that will have to be solved. He foresees what he calls a post-industrial society with new technical-professional elites, and further shifts from manufacturing to service industries. This he acclaims while denying that scarcity can be overcome. Thus his post-industrial society is far from utopian: he sees that rising budget needs and tax binds will be an ""intractable problem"" while politics could become ""a cockpit"" of competing claims over which costs should be borne by whom. To meet this crisis he advocates neither expansion of investment for useful goods nor the nastier sorts of productivity-increase measures. Instead, he sits back and wistfully wonders whether a ""communal ethic"" will arise. He rightly mistrusts the kind of communalism that is anti-education and pro-corporatist, i.e. representing people along functional, biological or cultural lines. To add to Iris latent vexations he sees with half an eye that the technicians he expects to become a confident new elite are currently demoralized and increasingly unemployed; but he expects training of and need for scientists to expand, and the economy to regain what he calls the ""steady advance of the past 100 years."" The implications of his ahistorical and tendentious idea that wages cause inflation and high labor costs price the U.S. out of the world market he leaves for sterner souls to draw -- perhaps those who will carry out the expanded national economic planning he projects. This is a chaste speculation whose allegiance to rationality and human control of social forces must be commended, but whose expression of belief in the majority's capacity to create -- and not merely endure -- a new order remains hollow. Excerpts to appear in Saturday Review/Society (May) and Business and Society (June).

Pub Date: June 22, 1973

ISBN: 0465097138

Page Count: -

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1973

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