Prophecy and Progress: The Sociology of Industrial and Post-Industrial

Prophecy and Progress: The Sociology of Industrial and Post-Industrial, London, Allen Lane: The Penguin Press, 1978; Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1978, pp. 416 (Japanese translation, Bunshindo Publishers, 1996)
By Krishan Kumar

Prophecy and Progress is an attempt to come to terms with the present position and the future prospects of Western industrial society. In particular it investigates the widely held and influential view that industrial societies are moving into a new stage in their evolution: a 'post-industrial' stage. Dr. Kumar examines the evidence that sustains this thesis and arrives at the conclusion that much of it is plausible only because of a widespread misconception of what 'classic' industiral society was all about.

He deals first with the making of industrial society, moves onto the 'post-industrial' idea and concludes with a discussion on the prospects of a society that genuinely goes 'beyond industrialism'. Throughout he traces the varying fortunes of the belief in progress, the balance of the feelings of confidence and despair about the future development of society.