Utopian Elements of Post-Industrial Theories: Illusions and Contradictions
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post-industrialism, information society, utopia, ideology, image of the future, there is no alternative

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Sukhorolskyi, P. (2019). Utopian Elements of Post-Industrial Theories: Illusions and Contradictions. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, (3-4), 32-54. https://doi.org/10.35423/2078-8142.2019.3-4.03


Since being developed in the 1970s-1980s, post-industrial theories have maintained their influence on and significance for scientific research, political decision-making, and shaping of ideas about the future which are dominant in society. However, the contradictions underlying these theories and their heterogeneous content are often overlooked. The paper develops an approach which considers post-industrialism to be a combination of critical analysis of social trends of the past, ideological components, as well as images of the future which are obviously utopian. Highlighting utopian elements of the well-known concepts of post-industrial and information society makes it possible to conclude that they have a close connection with the socialist and technological utopian thought of preindustrial and industrial eras. The main features of post-industrial utopia usually include: rapid rise of post-materialist and post-consumer values, reduction of the role of market regulation, smart management of the production and distribution of economic and non-economic goods, lifelong deinstitutionalized education and self-perfection, the achievement of public goals through the voluntary participation of citizens in various projects, the central role of universities in society, the rise of meritocracy as a rule by leaders with outstanding abilities, knowledge, and experience. The authors of the theories of post-industrial society try to combine their own ideal image of the future, radically different from the industrial reality, with the linear historical pattern and the idea of progress that underlie industrialism. As a result, their utopia becomes superficial, unoriginal, and unconvincing. As according to F. Polak, it is actually pseudo-utopia or semi-utopia that does not fulfil the role of utopia, namely to influence the course of history. That is why for the last half-century we are witnessing not the realization of post-industrial utopia but the strengthening of ideology of post-industrialism which is a direct descendant of its industrial predecessor and relies on the same foundations.

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