Major Social Trends Described by Toffler and Toffler (1994)

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1. Movement from the Agricultural/Industrial Age to the Information Age

Today we are living through one of those exclamation points in history when the entire structure of human knowledge is once again trembling with change as old barriers fall. We are not just accumulating more facts. Just as we are now restructuring companies and whole economies, we are totally reorganizing the production and distribution of knowledge and the symbols used to communicate it. (p. 33)

[The world is engaged in a battle among] three contrasting and competing civilizations--the first [the agricultural, labeled First Wave] still symbolized by the hoe, the second [industrial] by the assembly line, and the third [information] by the computer. (p. 31)

While land, labor, raw materials and capital were the main factors in production in the Second Wave economy of the past, knowledge--broadly defined here to include data, information, images, symbols, culture, ideology and values--is now the central resource of the Third Wave economy. (p. 42)

2. Workforce Needs in Different Sectors of the Economy are Changing Dramatically

While the United States, according to some estimates, is likely to generate 10,000 new jobs a day for the next decade, few if any will be in the manufacturing sector. A similar process has been transforming European and Japanese economies as well. (p. 50)

The fact that aggregate manufacturing employment in 1988 was at the same level as 1968 doesn't mean that the workers laid off in between simply returned to their old jobs. On the contrary with more Third Wave technologies in place, companies needed a radically different kind of workforce as well. (pp. 51-52)

[Approximately 13% of the workforce will be engaged in the agricultural and industrial sections of our society. Approximately 35% will be engaged in the service sector with over 50% working in the information sector. (See Bridges, 1994; Dent, 1995)]

3. Within Each Sector the Work Itself is Being Transformed

Work itself is being transformed. Low-skilled, essentially interchangeable muscle work drove the Second Wave...By contrast, the Third Wave is accompanied by a growing non-interchangeability of labor as skill requirements skyrocket. (p. 44) [Implication: When a knowledge worker is required to change work, he/she cannot easily fit into another high-paying position. Therefore, constant retraining necessary for top-paying work.]

4. The Workforce is Shrinking

Work units [are shrinking]. The scale of operations is [becoming] minaturised along with many of the products. Vast numbers of workers doing much the same muscle work are [being] replaced by small differentiated work teams. (p. 45) [Called dejobbing by others.]

5. De-massified Production Leads to Increased Complexity in the Economy

De-massified production--short runs of highly customized products--is the new cutting edge of manufacture. Mass marketing [is giving] way to market segmentation and Aparticle marketing,@ paralleling the change in production. (p.31)

Rising complexity in the economy calls for more sophisticated integration and management. (p. 46)

6. Constant Innovation is a Necessity

Constant innovation is needed to compete--new ideas for products, technologies, processes, marketing, finance. (p. 45)

7. National Economies are Being Globalized

...the "globalization" of business and finance required by the advancing Third Wave economies routinely punctures the national "sovereignty" the new nationalists hold so dear. (p. 33)

 ...economies...are compelled to surrender part of their sovereignty and to accept increasing economic and cultural intrusions from one another. (p. 33)

The jobless desperately need money if they and their families are to survive, and it is both necessary and morally right to provide them with decent levels of public assistance. But any effective strategy for reducing joblessness in a super-symbolic economy must depend less on the allocation of wealth and more on the allocation of knowledge. (p. 53)

 In today's global economy, pumping money into the consumer=s pocket may simply send it flowing overseas without doing anything to help the domestic economy. (p. 52)

8. Capitalism is Dominating the World Economy

Capitalism is dominating the world economy [over socialism and communism]. (p. 41)

...knowledge-based technologies are reducing the capital needed to produce dishwashers, stoves or vacuum cleaners. (p. 39)

 9. Recognition That Change is Not Linear

Scientists today are asking how systems behave in turbulence, how order evolves out of chaotic conditions and how developing systems leap to higher levels of diversity. (p. 59) [Recognizing the non-linear, rather than linear, functioning of systems.]

 10. Re-emerging Importance of the Family

In First Wave [agricultural] societies, the large, extended family was the center of the social universe....The decline of the family as a powerful institution...began when the industrial revolution stripped most of [the social functions of education of children, entertainment, caring for the sick and elderly, etc.] out of the family....The Third Wave re-empowers the family and the home...An estimated thirty million American now do some part of their work at home, often using computers, faxes and other Third World technologies. (p. 86) [Bridges (1994) estimates 50% of households will engage in a home-based business by the turn of the century.]

 11. Politics and the Media are Being Forced to Restructure

[Politics and the media are being changed as two basic camps emerge:] one committed to Second Wave civilization, the other to the Third. (p. 73)

The first, heretical principle of Third Wave government is that of minority power. It holds that majority rule, the key legitimating principle of the Second Wave era, is increasingly obsolete. It is not majorities but minorities that count. And our political systems must increasing reflect that fact.


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