Daniel Bell (May 10, 1919 – January 25, 2011) was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor emeritus at Harvard University, best known for his contributions to the study of post-industrialism. He has been described as "one of the leading American intellectuals of the postwar era." His three best known works are The End of Ideology, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.
Daniel Bell was born in 1919 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. His parents, Benjamin and Anna Bolotsky, were Jewish immigrants originally from Eastern Europe. They worked in the garment industry.His father died when he was eight months old, and he grew up poor living with relatives along with his mother and his older brother. When he was 13 years old, the family's name was changed from Bolotsky to Bell.
Bell graduated from Stuyvesant High School and City College of New York with a bachelor's degree in science and social science in 1938, and studied for one year further at Columbia University (1938–1939). He spent most of the next twenty years as a journalist, but ultimately earned a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1960 even though Bell had never written a doctoral dissertation. According to Universal Microfilm International, Bell wrote a dissertation entitled "The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties" for a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University. In 1960, it was published in hardcover.
Bell began his professional life as a journalist, being managing editor of The New Leader magazine (1941–1945), labor editor of Fortune (1948–1958) and later co-editor (with his college friend Irving Kristol) of The Public Interest magazine (1965–1973). In the late 1940s Bell was Instructor in the Social Sciences in the College of the University of Chicago. In 1960, Columbia awarded him a Ph.D.; in lieu of a dissertation Bell submitted "The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties," the title of his first book. Subsequently he taught sociology, first at Columbia (1959–1969) and then at Harvard until his retirement in 1990. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1964.
Bell also was the visiting Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University in 1987. He served as a member of the President’s Commission on Technology in 1964–1965 and as a member of the President’s Commission on a National Agenda for the 1980s in 1979.
Bell received honorary degrees from Harvard, the University of Chicago, fourteen other universities in the United States, Edinburgh Napier University, and Keio University in Japan. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association in 1992, and the Talcott Parsons Prize for the Social Sciences from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993. He was given the Tocqueville Award by the French government in 1995. Bell was a director of Suntory Foundation and a scholar in residence of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Bell once described himself as a "socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture."