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Postindustrial Societies

In 1973, sociologist Daniel Bell noted that a new type of society was emerging. He described the essential changes that are accompanying the emergence of a post-industrial society, one that relies on intellectual technologies of telecommunications and computers, not just "large computers but computers on a chip"

This new postindustrial society has six characteristics:
(1) A service sector so large that most people work in it,
(2) A vast surplus of goods,
(3) Even more extensive trade among nations
(4) A wider variety and quantity of goods available to the average person
(5) An information explosion
(6) A global village where the world's nations are linked by fast communications, transportation and trade.

In addition to the associated technology, a substantial proportion of the working population employed in service, sales, and administrative support occupations distinguishes post-industrial societies. There is an extraordinary rise in the percentage of workers in management, professional, and related occupations. There is an increased emphasis on education as the avenue of social mobility.

This has led to an opportunity
the dominance of intellectual technology based on mathematics and linguistics in the form of algorithms, programs (software), models, and simulations
the creation of an electronically mediated global communication infrastructure, which includes broadband, cable, digital TV, optical fiber networks, fax, e-mail and ISDN (integrated system digital networks)
an economy defined not simply by the production of goods and labor-saving devices but by applied knowledge as the source of invention and innovation and by the manipulation of numbers, words, images, and other symbols.

The jobs associated with this knowledge driven, information based economy include computer programmers, technical writers, financial analysts, market analysts, and customer-service representatives. The challenge of post-industrial society is interpersonal, as the "basic experience of each person's life is his relationship between himself and others." In an environment that emphasizes knowledge and interpersonal relationships, the institutions of science and education take center stage.

With regard to science, Bell described the rise and importance of science-based industries, which involve applications of theoretical knowledge. These industries are fundamentally different from the industries of the Industrial Revolution, such as steel, automobile, and telephone. For the most part, these industries were "founded or created by talented tinkers" who were not connected to the scientific establishment.

Post-industrial industries derive directly from the investigations of scientists into the basic phenomena of nature and the applications of this research to technological problems.

Education becomes key to negotiating an information society and is viewed as something that takes place across the lifespan, not con- fined to a specific time or place.