Our Modern Times
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Our Modern Times

The New Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age

By Daniel Cohen

How information technology has replaced the work culture of paternalism and standardization with one of isolation and insecurity.

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Summary

How information technology has replaced the work culture of paternalism and standardization with one of isolation and insecurity.

The "modern times" of the early twentieth century saw the rise of the assembly line and the belief that standardization would make the world a better place. Yet along with greater production efficiency came dehumanization, as the division of labor created many jobs requiring mindless repetition rather than conscious involvement with work. In our own modern times, a comparable revolution has been wrought by information technology. In Our Modern Times, Daniel Cohen traces the roots of this revolution back to the uprisings of 1968, when the youth of the industrialized world rejected the bourgeois values of their parents and the general situation of the workers. Students raised in the anti-establishment culture of the 1960s were able to shatter the world of standardization created by their parents. By the end of the twentieth century, information technology had created decentralized work structures that encouraged autonomy and personal initiative. But with this greater flexibility came the psychic stress and burnout of "24/7." Cohen explores the many ways that the new technology has changed our work and personal lives, our very conceptions of family and community. He argues compellingly that the present era represents a revolution that will be completed only when the importance of human capital is no longer overshadowed by the cost-saving efficiencies demanded by financial capital.

Hardcover

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262033022 136 pp. | 8 in x 5.375 in

Paperback

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262532631 136 pp. | 8 in x 5.375 in

Reviews

  • Cohen's is a slim volume that looks at the big picture...ideas that will drive the next decade.

    Michael Dumiak

    U.S. Banker

  • Explaining capitalism in a scant 124 pages is a daunting task, but Cohen cuts to the quick...

    Pete Babb

    Wired

Endorsements

  • A marvelous essay on how technology, education, and management all combine to shape and change the world we live in. The style is superb, the insights many, the propositions challenging. One hundred pages of pure intellectual fun.

    Olivier Blanchard

    Professor of Economics, MIT