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Hardcover | Out of Print | 136 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | October 2002 | ISBN: 9780262033022
Paperback | Out of Print | 136 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | February 2004 | ISBN: 9780262532631
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Our Modern Times

The New Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age


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.

About the Author

Daniel Cohen is Professor of Economics at the École Normale Supérieure and the Université de Paris-I. A member of the Council of Economic Analysis of the French Prime Minister, he is the author of The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations, Our Modern Times: The Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age, Globalization and Its Enemies, and Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society, all published by the MIT Press.


“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


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