Industrial society

In sociology, an industrial society is a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the Western world in the period of time following the Industrial Revolution, and replaced the agrarian societies of the pre-modern, pre-industrial age. Industrial societies are generally mass societies, and may be succeeded by an information society. They are often contrasted with traditional societies.[1]

Industrial societies use external energy sources, such as fossil fuels, to increase the rate and scale of production.[2] The production of food is shifted to large commercial farms where the products of industry, such as combine harvesters and fossil fuel based fertilizers, are used to decrease required human labor while increasing production. No longer needed for the production of food, excess labor is moved into these factories where mechanization is utilized to further increase efficiency. As populations grow, and mechanization is further refined, often to the level of automation, many workers shift to expanding service industries.

Industrial society makes urbanization desirable, in part so that workers can be closer to centers of production, and the service industry can provide labor to workers and those that benefit financially from them, in exchange for a piece of production profits with which they can buy goods. This leads to the rise of very large cities and surrounding suburban areas with a high rate of economic activity.

These urban centers require the input of external energy sources in order to overcome the diminishing returns[3] of agricultural consolidation, due partially to the lack of nearby arable land, associated transportation and storage costs, and are otherwise unsustainable.[4] This makes the reliable availability of the needed energy resources high priority in industrial government policies.

Some theoreticians (namely Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens, and Manuel Castells) argue that we are located in the middle of a transformation or transition from industrial societies to post-industrial societies. The triggering technology for the change from an agricultural to an industrial organisation was steam power, allowing mass production and reducing the agricultural work necessary. Thus, many industrial cities have been built around rivers. Identified as catalyst or trigger for the transition to post-modern or informational society is global information technology.

Some, such as Theodore Kaczynski, have argued that an industrialized society leads to psychological pain and that citizens must actively work to return to a more primitive society. His essay, Industrial Society and Its Future, describes different political factions and laments the direction of technology and the modern world.

See also


  1. ^ S. Langlois, Traditions: Social, In: Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes, Editor(s)-in-Chief, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Pergamon, Oxford, 2001, pages 15829-15833, ISBN 978-0-08-043076-8, doi:10.1016/B0-08-043076-7/02028-3. Online
  2. ^ "Chapter 1: Energy Fundamentals, Energy Use in an Industrial Society" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  3. ^ Arthur, Brian (February 1990). "Positive Feedbacks in the Economy". Scientific American. 262: 92–99.
  4. ^ McGranahan, Gordon; Satterthwaite, David (November 2003). "URBAN CENTERS: An Assessment of Sustainability". Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 28: 243–274. doi:10.1146/


Brede Works

The National Museum of Denmark's new museum, Brede Works, lies in the countryside just north of Copenhagen in Denmark's largest, protected industrial plants. At the museum of Industrial culture, the visitors can be guided around by its own virtual person between old machines, hear how Denmark became an industrial society and even try to work at an assembly line. The exhibitions show the industrial development which has changed the everyday lives of the Danes over the past few centuries.

Bug (Starship Troopers)

The Bugs are an extraterrestrial race in the novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, its film adaptation (and its first and second sequels, an animated film, a Japanese OVA and loose spin-off television series), sometimes also referred to as the Arachnids, although the aliens are not related to Earth arachnids.

The Bugs in the film differ considerably from those in the novel, which calls the Bugs "Pseudo-Arachnids". The Bugs in the book are an industrial society that builds starships; the film Bugs have no technology, only specialized castes including "plasma Bugs" that can fire burning fireballs into orbit. Meanwhile, Mongoose Publishing's Starship Troopers: The Miniatures Game refers to them as the Arachnid Empire or the Bug Empire. In the third film in the franchise, the bugs are referred to as "Archie", similar to nicknames given to Germans ("Jerry") and the Viet Cong ("Charlie") in their respective wars. The novel's Bugs are highly susceptible to radiation and chemical attacks, and the Mobile Infantry frequently seals their escape holes.


Cobdenism refers to an economic ideology (and the associated popular movement) which perceives international free trade and a non-interventionist foreign policy as the key requirements for prosperity and world peace. It is named after the British statesman and economist Richard Cobden and had its heyday of political influence in the British Empire during the mid-19th century, amidst and after the endeavour to abolish the Corn Laws.

Based on Adam Smith's assertion that full employment and economic growth require access to foreign markets, Cobden perceived the expansion of foreign trade as the main means of increasing global prosperity and emphasized the importance of the international division of labour for economic progress. Akin to his ideal of Britain as an industrial society of small cooperating property owners, he believed in an international order of small, independent nations attaining shared prosperity through international trade. As Cobden saw Britain's imperialist ambitions as an unwelcome distraction of domestic investment into its industrial capacity, his writings became influential in anti-imperialist circles, being picked up by e.g. John A. Hobson. Moreover, it influenced the economic thinking of John Maynard Keynes, who was a staunch adherent of Richard Cobden's theories prior to the First World War, after which he abandoned Cobdenism in favor of "insular capitalism".Rarely used today and already in decline by the end of the 19th century, Cobdenism was revived by some academics during the 1980s to support the liberalization of the British economy.

Daniel Bell

Daniel Bell (May 10, 1919 – January 25, 2011) was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor at Harvard University, best known for his contributions to the study of post-industrialism. He has been described as "one of the leading American intellectuals of the postwar era." His three best known works are The End of Ideology, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.

Future Shock

Future Shock is a 1970 book by the futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, in which the authors define the term "future shock" as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. Their shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time". The book, which became an international bestseller, grew out of an article "The Future as a Way of Life" in Horizon magazine, Summer 1965 issue. The book has sold over 6 million copies and has been widely translated.

A documentary film based on the book was released in 1972 with Orson Welles as on-screen narrator.

Industrial civilization

Industrial civilization refers to the state of civilization following the Industrial Revolution, characterised by widespread use of powered machines. The transition of an individual region from pre-industrial society into an industrial society is referred to as the process of industrialisation, which may occur in different regions of the world at different times. Individual regions may specialise further as the civilisation continues to advance, resulting in some regions transitioning to a service economy, or information society, or post-industrial society (these are still dependent on industry, but allow individuals to move out of manufacturing jobs). The present era is sometimes referred to as the Information Age . De-industrialization of a region may occur for a range of reasons.Industrial civilization has allowed a significant growth both in world population, thanks to mechanised agriculture and advances in modern medicine, and in the standard of living.

Such a civilization is mostly dependent on fossil fuel, with efforts underway to find alternatives for energy production. Some areas have exhibited de-industrialization as certain industries go into decline, or are superseded.


Industrialisation is the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial society, involving the extensive re-organisation of an economy for the purpose of manufacturing.As industrial workers' incomes rise, markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds tend to expand and provide a further stimulus to industrial investment and economic growth.


Industry is the production of goods or related services within an economy. The major source of revenue of a group or company is the indicator of its relevant industry. When a large group has multiple sources of revenue generation, it is considered to be working in different industries. Manufacturing industry became a key sector of production and labour in European and North American countries during the Industrial Revolution, upsetting previous mercantile and feudal economies. This came through many successive rapid advances in technology, such as the production of steel and coal.

Following the Industrial Revolution, possibly a third of the economic output comes from manufacturing industries. Many developed countries and many developing/semi-developed countries (China, India etc.) depend significantly on manufacturing industry.

Information society

An information society is a society where the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity. Its main drivers are digital information and communication technologies, which have resulted in an information explosion and are profoundly changing all aspects of social organization, including the economy, education, health, warfare, government and democracy. The people who have the means to partake in this form of society are sometimes called digital citizens, defined by K. Mossberger as “Those who use the Internet regularly and effectively”. This is one of many dozen labels that have been identified to suggest that humans are entering a new phase of society.The markers of this rapid change may be technological, economic, occupational, spatial, cultural, or some combination of all of these.

Information society is seen as the successor to industrial society. Closely related concepts are the post-industrial society (Daniel Bell), post-fordism, post-modern society, knowledge society, telematic society, Information Revolution, liquid modernity, and network society (Manuel Castells).

Means of production

In economics and sociology, the means of production (also called capital goods) are physical and non-financial inputs used in the production of economic value. These include raw materials, facilities, machinery and tools used in the production of goods and services. In the terminology of classical economics, the means of production are the "factors of production" minus financial and human capital.

The social means of production are capital goods and assets that require organized collective labor effort, as opposed to individual effort, to operate on. The ownership and organization of the social means of production is a key factor in categorizing and defining different types of economic systems.

The means of production includes two broad categories of objects: instruments of labor (tools, factories, infrastructure, etc.) and subjects of labor (natural resources and raw materials). People operate on the subjects of labor using the instruments of labor to create a product; or stated another way, labor acting on the means of production creates a good. In an agrarian society the principal means of production is the soil and the shovel. In an industrial society the means of production become social means of production and include factories and mines. In a knowledge economy, computers and networks are means of production. In a broad sense, the "means of production" also includes the "means of distribution" such as stores, the internet and railroads (Infrastructural capital).

One-Dimensional Man

One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society is a 1964 book by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, in which the author offers a wide-ranging critique of both contemporary capitalism and the Communist society of the Soviet Union, documenting the parallel rise of new forms of social repression in both these societies, as well as the decline of revolutionary potential in the West. He argues that "advanced industrial society" created false needs, which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought.This results in a "one-dimensional" universe of thought and behaviour, in which aptitude and ability for critical thought and oppositional behaviour wither away. Against this prevailing climate, Marcuse promotes the "great refusal" (described at length in the book) as the only adequate opposition to all-encompassing methods of control. Much of the book is a defense of "negative thinking" as a disrupting force against the prevailing positivism.Marcuse also analyzes the integration of the industrial working class into capitalist society and new forms of capitalist stabilization, thus questioning the Marxian postulates of the revolutionary proletariat and the inevitability of capitalist crisis. In contrast to orthodox Marxism, Marcuse champions non-integrated forces of minorities, outsiders, and radical intelligentsia, attempting to nourish oppositional thought and behavior through promoting radical thinking and opposition. He considers the trends towards bureaucracy in supposedly Marxist countries to be as oppositional to freedom as those in the capitalist West.One-Dimensional Man was the book that made Marcuse famous.

Outline of industry

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to industry:

Industry – refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.

Post-industrial society

In sociology, the post-industrial society is the stage of society's development when the service sector generates more wealth than the manufacturing sector of the economy.

The term was originated by Alain Touraine and is closely related to similar sociological theoretical constructs such as post-Fordism, information society, knowledge economy, post-industrial economy, liquid modernity, and network society. They all can be used in economics or social science disciplines as a general theoretical backdrop in research design.

As the term has been used, a few common themes, including the ones below have begun to emerge.

The economy undergoes a transition from the production of goods to the provision of services.

Knowledge becomes a valued form of capital; see Human capital.

Producing ideas is the main way to grow the economy.

Through processes of globalization and automation, the value and importance to the economy of blue-collar, unionized work, including manual labor (e.g., assembly-line work) decline, and those of professional workers (e.g., scientists, creative-industry professionals, and IT professionals) grow in value and prevalence.

Behavioral and information sciences and technologies are developed and implemented. (e.g., behavioral economics, information architecture, cybernetics, game theory and information theory.)

Pre-industrial society

Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which occurred from 1750 to 1850. Pre-industrial is a time before there were machines and tools to help perform tasks en masse. Pre-industrial civilization dates back to centuries ago, but the main era known as the Pre-Industrial Society occurred right before the industrial society.

Pre-Industrial societies vary from region to region depending on the culture of a given area or history of social and political life. Europe is known for its feudal system and Medieval era.

Ralf Dahrendorf

Ralf Gustav Dahrendorf, Baron Dahrendorf, (May 1, 1929 – June 17, 2009) was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, political scientist and liberal politician. A class conflict theorist, Dahrendorf was a leading expert on explaining and analyzing class divisions in modern society, and is regarded as "one of the most influential thinkers of his generation." Dahrendorf wrote multiple articles and books, his most notable being Class Conflict in Industrial Society (1959) and Essays in the Theory of Society (1968).

During his political career, he was a Member of the German Parliament, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Foreign Office of Germany, European Commissioner for External Relations and Trade, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Education and Member of the British House of Lords, after he was created a life peer in 1993. He was subsequently known in the United Kingdom as Lord Dahrendorf.He served as director of the London School of Economics and Warden of St Antony's College, University of Oxford. He also served as a Professor of Sociology at a number of universities in Germany and the United Kingdom, and was a Research Professor at the Berlin Social Science Research Center.

Ronald Inglehart

Ronald F. Inglehart (born September 5, 1934) is a political scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. He is director of the World Values Survey, a global network of social scientists who have carried out representative national surveys of the publics of over 80 societies on all six inhabited continents, containing 90 percent of the world's population. The first wave of surveys for this project was carried out in 1981 and the latest wave was completed in 2014. Since 2010 Inglehart has also been co-director of the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the National Research University - Higher School of Economics in Moscow and St Petersburg. This laboratory has carried out surveys in Russia and eight ex-Soviet countries and is training PhD-level students in quantitative cross-national research methods.

In the seventies Inglehart began developing an influential theory of Generational Replacement causing intergenerational value change from materialist to post-materialist values that helped shape the Eurobarometer Surveys, the World Values Surveys and other cross-national survey projects. Building on this work, he subsequently developed a revised version of Modernization theory, Evolutionary Modernization Theory, which argues that economic development, welfare state institutions and the long peace between major powers since 1945, are reshaping human motivations in ways that have important implications concerning gender roles, sexual norms, the role of religion, economic behavior and the spread of democracy.

Ted Kaczynski

Theodore John Kaczynski (; born May 22, 1942), also known as the Unabomber (), is an American domestic terrorist, former mathematics professor, and anarchist author. A mathematics prodigy, he abandoned an academic career in 1969 to pursue a primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, he killed three people and injured 23 others in an attempt to start a revolution by conducting a nationwide bombing campaign targeting people involved with modern technology. In conjunction, he issued a social critique opposing industrialization and advancing a nature-centered form of anarchism.In 1971 Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water near Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills in an attempt to become self-sufficient. After witnessing the destruction of the wilderness surrounding his cabin, he concluded that living in nature was untenable and began his bombing campaign in 1978. In 1995, he sent a letter to The New York Times and promised to "desist from terrorism" if The Times or The Washington Post published his essay, Industrial Society and Its Future, in which he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom and dignity by modern technologies that require large-scale organization.

Kaczynski was the subject of the longest and most expensive investigation in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Before his identity was known, the FBI used the acronym UNABOM (University and Airline Bomber) to refer to his case, which resulted in the media naming him the "Unabomber". The FBI and Attorney General Janet Reno pushed for the publication of Industrial Society and Its Future, which led to a tip-off from Kaczynski's brother, David Kaczynski, who recognized the writing style.

After his arrest in 1996, Kaczynski tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wanted him to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, as he did not believe he was insane. In 1998 a plea bargain was reached, under which he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Work Foundation

The Work Foundation is a British not-for-profit organisation and independent authority providing advice, consultancy and research on the future of work, improving the quality of working life, leadership, economic and organisational effectiveness. The foundation works with government, business organisations, the public sector, and not-for-profit institutions. It operates with opinion formers, policy makers and partner organisations through forums and networks, consultations and publications.It was founded in 1918 as the Boys Welfare Association later becoming the Industrial Society. In 2002 it was renamed the Work Foundation, shifting its business model away from being a training organisation towards being a research, consultancy and policy think tank under the leadership of former Observer Editor Will Hutton. Its reports on various aspects of the labour market are often cited by the media. Ian Brinkley has replaced Stephen Bevan in the new position of director. In 2008 Stephen Bevan replaced Hutton as managing director, with Hutton becoming executive vice-chair. The Work Foundation was acquired in October 2010 by Lancaster University following a winding up petition in the High Court. Hutton was criticised for his handling of the Foundation by a number of publications including The Sunday Times and Private Eye.

Will Hutton

William Nicolas Hutton (born 21 May 1950) is a British political economist, academic administrator, and journalist. He is currently Principal of Hertford College, University of Oxford, and Chair of the Big Innovation Centre, an initiative from the Work Foundation (formerly the Industrial Society), having been chief executive of the Work Foundation from 2000 to 2008. He was formerly editor-in-chief for The Observer. He is widely known for his advocacy of centre-left policies, criticisms of the neoliberal economic consensus, and his long association with key members and policies of the Labour Party.

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