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Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society

A noted economist analyzes the upheavals caused by revolutions in technology, labor, culture, financial markets, and globalization. In this pithy and provocative book, noted economist Daniel Cohen offers his analysis of the global shift to a post-industrial era. If it was once natural to speak of industrial society, Cohen writes, it is more difficult to speak meaningfully of post-industrial "society." The solidarity that once lay at the heart of industrial society no longer exists. The different levels of large industrial enterprises have been systematically disassembled: tasks considered nonessential are assigned to subcontractors; engineers are grouped together in research sites, apart from the workers. Employees are left exposed while shareholders act to protect themselves. Never has the awareness that we all live in the same world been so strong -- and never have the social conditions of existence been so unequal. In these wide-ranging reflections, Cohen describes the transformations that signaled the break between the industrial and the post-industrial eras. He links the revolution in information technology to the trend toward flatter hierarchies of workers with multiple skills -- and connects the latter to work practices growing out of the culture of the May 1968 protests. Subcontracting and outsourcing have also changed the nature of work, and Cohen succinctly analyzes the new international division of labor, the economic rise of China, India, and the former Soviet Union, and the economic effects of free trade on poor countries. Finally, Cohen examines the fate of the European social model -- with its traditional compromise between social justice and economic productivity -- in a post-industrial world.
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Daniel Cohen writes in an elegant fashion about the ruptures that define the post-industrial world: how technology has changed the organization of labor and what social consequences this is having; what world inequalities globalization is creating, and how and why the European social model differs from the US model. It is not the material discussed in this thin volume that is remarkable. It is how Cohen is able to draw the big picture with a great economy of means and to make connections between seemingly unrelated social and economic phenomena. -- Jean-Jacques Dethier, Research Manager, The World Bank, and Adjunct Professor, Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University

About the Author

Daniel Cohen is Professor of Economics at the Ecole Normale Superieure and the Universite de Paris-I and a member of the Council of Economic Analysis of the French Prime Minister. He is a frequent contributor to Le Monde and the author of The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations (1998), Our Modern Times: The New Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age (2002), and Globalization and Its Enemies (2006), all published by the MIT Press


One of the most original and incisive inquiries into the subject I have seen....There is more wisdom in Choen's short book than in dozens of weightier tomes. * New York Review of Books *

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