Daniel Bell

Daniel Bell books and biography


Daniel Bell

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Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell

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:

  • It was a defense of the post-1945 status quo.
  • It was downplaying genuine political debate in favor of 'technocratic guidance' from social and cultural elites.
  • It was substituting consensus for moral discourse.
  • Its intellectual honesty was compromised by its author's participation in emerging Cold War discourses.
  • It was disproven by the return of radical discontentment in politics, marked by the 1960s and 1970s youth agitations in the West and the rise of extremist politics in the Third World.

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:

  • a shift from manufacturing to services
  • the centrality of the new science-based industries
  • the rise of new technical elites and the advent of a new principle of stratification

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.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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