Future Shock - Alvin Toffler (1970)
Published on Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:34:00
Examines the effects of rapid industrial and technological changes upon the individual, the family, and society It is a pleasant surprise to see that this book has been reissued as a hardcover. In the thrity years since its original publication, the basic truths and awesome prognositications have largely come to pass. Of course, in the process Mr. Toffler has become something of a cottage industry himself, since publishing several sequels (The Third Wave, Power Shift, etc.). Yet nothing surpasses the sheer magnitude of the argument forwarded here. Toffler marshalls a virtual mountain of evidence illustrating his claim of a rising flood of techniological, social, and economic change, largely emanating from the increasing influence of science and technology into every area of contemporary life. Toffler's main concern is with the recognition that while a human being's capacity to adjust physically, psychologically, and socially to this torrent of change is finite and quite limited, the pace of change is increasing and expanding into more and more areas of individuals' lives. Moreover, no one is asking for these profound and endless changes; they stem more from the economic impulses of the marketplace than from any kind of consumer demand, and perhaps we should be asking to what extent this flood of innovations actually enhances our lives, and personal convenience associated with all these innovations and technological improvements are worth the social, economic, and political change that follows in its wake. The term "future shock" refers to what happens when people are no longer able to cope with the pace of change. All sorts of symptoms and maladies results, ranging from depression to bizarre behavior to increases in susceptability to disease to absolute emotional breakdown. Thus, Toffler accurately anticipated many of the sorts of psychological, social, and economic maldies and turbulence of the last thirty years. Yet, to date literally no one seems to pay much heed to his thesis, or to ask what it means for the quality of life in our own futures. This is an important book raising critical and fundamental questions about the social, economic, and political impacts of technologically-induced innovations within contemporary society and the way they are flooding uncontested and unhampered into our social environment. This is a must-read for any serious student of social science.
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