Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Reactions to Bell and his critics

Some good reactions to the readings this week. Over atBroerdom, Ben writes that Bell's article has to be understood in the context of the period in which it was written -- the early 1970s:

His vision of post-industrial society is apt in that it describes information as an economic engine and he describes economic conflicts between working class and professionals caused by inflation, outsourcing, and high trade deficits (pp. 98-99).

However, his idea that post-industrial society is primarily a communal society in which public mechanisms, rather than the market, determines distribution goods reflects either his personal leftist views or his writing before the Reagan administration.

That health care and education (96-97) would be valued over product quantities seems idealistic in light of current devaluation of science education by politics and high-cost, privatized health care. Reganomics (free market rule except in military matters, insurance cum governance is communist) likely destroyed the reality in which he wrote.

Since Bell wrote when anti-povery legislation and social welfare wasn't political suicide, his predictions come across today as somewhat flawed.

We should also consider Bell's arguments in geographical context, though, writes Katie over at Katie's thoughts:

I think Bells statement on page 88, about how the "rapidity of social change and shifting cultural fashion bewilders the old" is true. This is not only true in our post-industrial society, however, our societies changes are forcing social change on pre-industrial societies, for example in the South Pacific. As a result of Western influence, services and amenities are become essential in life there, which traditionally was communal. However, to get money to pay for these things they are forced to work in factories, which come to their countries as a result of labor being cheaper there then in the United States, urbanizing society, spreading disease, poverty and disrupting their traditional way of life.

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