The End of Work
In this compelling, disturbing, and ultimately hopeful book, Jeremy Rifkin argues that we are entering a new phase of history — one characterized by the steady and inevitable decline of jobs. Worldwide unemployment is now at the highest level since the great depression of the 1930s. The number of people underemployed or without work is rising sharply as millions of new entrants into the workforce find themselves victims of an extraordinary high-technology revolution. Sophisticated computers, robotics, telecommunications, and other cutting-edge technologies are fast replacing human beings in virtually every sector and industry-from manufacturing, retail, and financial services, to transportation, agriculture, and government.
Many jobs are never coming back. Blue collar workers, secretaries, receptionists, clerical workers, sales clerks, bank tellers, telephone operators, librarians, wholesalers, and middle managers are just a few of the many occupations destined for virtual extinction. While some new jobs are being created, they are, for the most part, low paying and generally temporary employment. More than fifteen percent of the American people are currently living below the poverty line. The world, says Rifkin, is fast polarizing into two potentially irreconcilable forces: on one side, an information elite that controls and manages the high-tech global economy; and on the other, the growing numbers of permanently displaced workers, who have few prospects and little hope for meaningful employment in an increasingly automated world.
Rifkin suggests that we move beyond the delusion of retraining for nonexistent jobs. He urges us to begin to ponder the unthinkable-to prepare ourselves and our institutions for a world that is phasing out mass employment in the production and marketing of goods and services. Redefining the role of the individual in a near workerless society is likely to be the single most pressing issue in the decades to come.
Rifkin says we should look toward a new, post-market era. Fresh alternatives to formal work will need to be devised. New approaches to providing income and purchasing power will have to be implemented. Greater reliance will need to be placed on the emerging “third sector” to aid in the restoration of communities and the building of a sustainable culture.
The end of work could mean the demise of civilization as we have come to know it, or signal the beginning of a great social transformation and a rebirth of the human spirit.
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“The End of Work is rich in detail, absorbing in its real-life relevance, and large in scope. An indispensable introduction to a problem that we (and our children) will be living with for the rest of our lives.”
— Robert L. Heilbroner, economist
“Jeremy Rifkin addresses boldly and expertly a most important problem facing contemporary society, a problem that most economists are reluctant to discuss … This is a very readable and important book.”
— Wassily Leontief, Nobel laureate and professor of economics, New York University
“Rifkin does an extremely comprehensive and insightful analysis of our current economic situation. While not everyone will agree with his recommendations, nevertheless, this book is extremely provocative about how we design a society that better meets the needs of all its citizens.”
— Glen L. Urban, Dean, MIT Sloan School of Management
“Jeremy Rifkin is among the few with the vision to identify the problems that fundamentally destabilize our societies … In The End of Work, Rifkin analyzes the impact of technology on modern society in a provocative and timely way.”
— Sir James Goldsmith, European Parliament
The End of Work
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