A post-industrial society is a stage in a society's development during which the economy transitions from one that primarily provides goods to one that primarily provides services. In other words, the service sector (e.g. nurses, teachers, researchers, social workers, lawyers, etc) accounts for more of the economic growth and wealth than the manufacturing sector (e.g. construction workers, textile mills, food manufacturers, production workers, etc). The economic transformation associated with a post-industrial society subsequently transforms society as a whole.
Information, services, and advanced technology are more important in post-industrial societies than manufacturing tangible goods. As the name suggests, a post-industrial society follows an industrialized society, which focused on mass producing goods with the aide of machinery. Post-industrialization can easily be seen in places like Europe and the United States, which were affected by the Industrial Revolution before other places around the world. The United States was the first country to have more than fifty percent of its workers employed in service sector jobs.
The term 'post-industrial' was first popularized by American sociologist Daniel Bell when he wrote The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting, in 1973. In this book, Bell describes six ways in which a society changes that are associated with post-industrial societies.
There is a shift away from producing goods to creating services. Production of goods (e.g. clothing and shoes) declines while the production of services (e.g. fast food and fitness coaching) increase. Direct manufacturers of goods are few.
Blue-collar, manual labor jobs (e.g. assembly line and welders) are replaced with professional (e.g. doctor) and technical (e.g. computer analyst) jobs.
Transition to a focus on theoretical knowledge over practical know-how. Theoretical knowledge leads to the creation of new, innovative, solutions (e.g. knowledge created by doctors has led to new, effective models of patient care).
Increased focus on the implications of new technologies, when and how they should be used, and when and how to control them.
Creation of new scientific disciplines (e.g. cybernetics and information technology) to assess the impact of the new technologies.
A critical need for higher education institutions like universities to create graduates who can develop and control the next wave of technological advances.
Effects of Post-Industrial Society
Although it's still too soon to know how living in a post-industrialized society will ultimately affect our lives, there are a few effects that have already been seen.