Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society
In this pithy and provocative book, the noted economist Daniel Cohen offers his analysis of the global shift to a post-industrial era. If it was once natural to speak of industrial society, Cohen writes, it is more difficult to speak meaningfully of post-industrial "society." The solidarity that once characterized industrial society no longer exists. The different components of large industrial enterprises have been systematically disassembled: tasks considered nonessential are assigned to subcontractors; engineers are grouped together in research sites, distant from the workers. Employees are left exposed and shareholders act to protect themselves. Never has the awareness that we all live in the same world been so strong—and never have the social conditions of existence been so unequal.
In these wide-ranging reflections, Cohen describes the transformations that signaled the break between the industrial and the post-industrial eras. He links the revolution in information technology to the trend toward flatter hierarchies of workers with multiple skills—and connects the latter to work practices growing out of the culture of the May 1968 protests. Subcontracting and outsourcing have also changed the nature of work, and Cohen succinctly analyzes the new international division of labor, the economic rise of China, India, and the former Soviet Union, and the economic effects of free trade on poor countries. Finally, Cohen examines the fate of the European social model—with its traditional compromise between social justice and economic productivity—in a post-industrial world.
About the Author
Daniel Cohen is Professor of Economics at the École Normale Supérieure and the Université de Paris-I. A member of the Council of Economic Analysis of the French Prime Minister, he is the author of The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations, Our Modern Times: The Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age, Globalization and Its Enemies, and Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society, all published by the MIT Press.
Daniel Cohen writes in an elegant fashion about the ruptures that definethe post-industrial world: how technology has changed the organization oflabor and what social consequences this is having, what world inequalitiesglobalization is creating, and how and why the European social model differsfrom the US model. It is not the material discussed in this thin volume thatis remarkable. It is how Cohen is able to draw the big picture with a greateconomy of means and to make connections between seemingly unrelated socialand economic phenomena."
—Jean-Jacques Dethier, Research Manager, World Bank, and AdjunctProfessor, Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University
Praise for Globalization and Its Enimies
"One of the most original and incisive inquiries into the subject I have seen....There is more wisdom in Choen's short book than in dozens of weightier tomes."
—John Gray, the New York Review of Books