What are the salient features of a post-industrial society?      

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the most important features of a post-industrial society is the relative weakness of labor unions. During the era of industrialization, most union members worked in manufacturing, so when manufacturing began to decline labor unions inevitably lost members and with it, the relatively important political and economic clout they'd previously enjoyed.

Many of the jobs that have replaced the old industries, such as part-time roles in the service sector, are especially resistant to union organization. Employee turnover in this sector is relatively high, making it more difficult for labor unions to gain a foothold in the workplace. Such a rapidly shifting workforce is inevitably much harder to organize than the old industrial plants with their secure, well-paid jobs.

The end result of all this is that labor unions are considerably weaker than they once were. This has allowed businesses and their supporters in state legislatures to sponsor a series of so-called "right to work" laws that have made it harder for labor unions to organize workers and insist on compulsory union membership as a condition of employment contracts.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A few of the most salient aspects of a post-industrial society include:

  • A service economy based primarily on the exchange of services rather than goods. Instead of relying on agriculture and manufacturing, much of the GDP of a post-industrial society is composed of services such as hospitality (hotels, restaurants), health care (doctors, physical therapists, personal trainers), entertainment (movies, music, writing), technology (software, social media platforms). In 2011, the service sector composed almost 80% of the United States GDP.
  • Technology and automation take the place of jobs once done by both blue collar and white collar workers. The most valuable “wealth” created in a post-industrial society is commonly technology, not manufactured goods. Highly successful technology start-ups like Facebook and Google provide evidence of the huge market for new technology in a post-industrial society.
  • Economic Globalization—the increasing interconnectedness of the global economy. Manufacturing jobs, in a post-industrial society, are commonly sent overseas to developing countries where labor is cheaper.

In a post-industrial society, highly skilled labor that can produce knowledge, creativity, and technology becomes increasingly valuable and highly compensated, while jobs and careers that in the past could provide a solid living are increasingly becoming obsolete due to automation and the outsourcing of jobs. Education that can lead to highly skilled labor becomes paramount in a post-industrial society, so keep studying!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial