Daniel Bell (born 10 May 1919 in New York) is a sociologist and professor emeritus at Harvard University. He graduated from City College of New York with a B.A. in sociology. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is a scholar in residence of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the past, Bell taught sociology at Columbia University. He is also known for his contributions as an editor to The Public Interest Magazine, Fortune and The New Leader. Bell was among the original New York Intellectuals, a group of anti-Stalinist left-wing writers.
He is best known for his contributions to post-industrialism. His most influential books are The End of Ideology (1960), The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976) and The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973). The End of Ideology and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism appeared on the Times Literary Supplement’s list of the 100 most important books of the second half of the twentieth century. The End of Ideology has been influential in what was called endism. This is the idea that both history and ideology have been reduced to insignificance because Western democratic politics and capitalism have triumphed. At the time, Bell was attacked by political critics, left-wing and otherwise. They claimed that Bell had replaced a sense of reality with theoretical elegance, arguing that he privileged 'endism' more than he did historical accuracy.
Broadly speaking, criticism of The End of Ideology boiled down to five general concerns:
In The Coming of Post-Industrial Society Bell outlined a new kind of society - the post-industrial society. He argued that post-industrialism would be information-led and service-oriented. Bell also argued that the post-industrial society would replace the industrial society as the dominant system. There are three components to a post-industrial society, according to Bell:
Since the publication of his book, many of the predictions have turned true. He takes credit for predicting mass consumption, but he failed to foresee the social cost, such as loss of job security or mass unemployment.
Bell's son, David Bell, is a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University.