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The Technological Society Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1967

ISBN-13: 978-0394703909 ISBN-10: 0394703901

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (October 12, 1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394703901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394703909
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Jacques EIlul is a French sociologist, a Catholic layman active in the ecumenical movement, a leader of the French resistance in the war, and -- one is tempted to add, after reading his book -a great man. Certainly he has written a magnificent book. ... The translation by John Wilkinson is excellent.

"With monumental calm and maddening thoroughness he goes through one human activity after another and shows how it has been technicized -- rendered efficient -- and diminished in the process.... "

-- Paul Pickrel, Harper's

"The Technological Society is one of the most important books of the second half of the twentieth century. In it, Jacques Ellul convincingly demonstrates that technology, which we continue to conceptualize as the servant of man, will overthrow everything that prevents the internal logic of its development, including humanity itself -- unless we take the necessary steps to move human society out of the environment that 'technique' is creating to meet its own needs."

-- Robert Theobald, The Nation

"...The effect is a contained intellectual explosion, a heated recognition of a tragic complication that has overtaken contemporary society."

-- Scott Buchanan, George Washington Law Review

From the Back Cover

"Jacques EIlul is a French sociologist, a Catholic layman active in the ecumenical movement, a leader of the French resistance in the war, and -- one is tempted to add, after reading his book -a great man. Certainly he has written a magnificent book. ... The translation by John Wilkinson is excellent.

"With monumental calm and maddening thoroughness he goes through one human activity after another and shows how it has been technicized -- rendered efficient -- and diminished in the process.... "

-- Paul Pickrel, Harper's

"The Technological Society is one of the most important books of the second half of the twentieth century. In it, Jacques Ellul convincingly demonstrates that technology, which we continue to conceptualize as the servant of man, will overthrow everything that prevents the internal logic of its development, including humanity itself -- unless we take the necessary steps to move human society out of the environment that 'technique' is creating to meet its own needs."

-- Robert Theobald, The Nation

"...The effect is a contained intellectual explosion, a heated recognition of a tragic complication that has overtaken contemporary society."

-- Scott Buchanan, George Washington Law Review


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Customer Reviews

With that being said, this book is worth well worth the time spent reading its 436 pages.
Jonathan Armstrong
Whether you agree or disagree with Ellul, you are bound to be influenced and impressed by the intellectual effort put into this book.
"larsxe"
This is a great book that can and will open your eyes to how the world really works and where it is most likely headed.
Hillbilly Hippie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Armstrong on June 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before proceeding with this review, let me just say that no fewer than a hundred pages could be trimmed from its content without diluting its message at all. Many of the examples used in the book are extremely dated; while I think I'm fairly well read, I confess that I'm not really up on the vicissitudes and catfights of French academic sociology in the early 1960's (to give but one example). With that being said, this book is worth well worth the time spent reading its 436 pages.
This is undoubtedly one of the most important books of the twentieth century, and if you accept its thesis you won't be able to look at the political milieu in the same way ever again. (If you agree with it and it doesn't change the way you look at things, you haven't grasped its importance.) Most political theorists take ideology to be a central point from which "real world" consequences emanate. In other words, a Communist or libertarian ideology in practical use will produce a particular type society and individual divorced from the actual technical workings of the society. Liberals and conservatives both speak of things in such a manner as if ideology is the prima facie cause of existence - but as Ellul shows in painstaking detail, this is wrong. What almost everyone fails to grasp is the pernicious effect of technique (and its offspring, technology) on modern man.
Technique can loosely be defined as the entire mass of organization and technology that has maximum efficiency as its goal. Ellul shows that technique possesses an impetus all its own and exerts similar effects on human society no matter what the official ideology of the society in question is. Technique, with its never-ending quest for maximum efficiency, tends to slowly drown out human concerns as it progresses towards its ultimate goal.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book in college in 1971. It has had more lasting impact upon my view of the world than any other book I read at that time. I go back to it every now and again. Anyone interested in the effects of globalization and the drive to faster and faster technological change and the maximizing of shareholder value should read this book. We are driven to compartmentalize our relationships to become efficient, the ultimate law of technology. Our relationships with our families, our neighbors, our communities, our friends and our government are impacted by the drive for efficiency.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By "larsxe" on July 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this famous volume, Jacques Ellul explores the role of technique in the modern world. In Ellul's view, ordered efficiency is the first and foremost law of the technical world, with widespread implications for human life. Modern man lives under a framework of artificial operational objectives he wasn't designed to cope with. Technique has turned men into mere resources thrown around wherever the technical system finds them most useful.
The technical system is no longer within the reach of human control: it has taken on a life of its own and constitutes an independent force consuming more and more of the non-technical world around it. Men do not use technique: technique uses men. The argument behind this is not as metaphysical as it may appear; in much Ellul is as materialistic as Marx and seeks to penetrate the social reality's "essence" just as Marx did in Capital.
The sociology and philosophy of this work is original, radical and logical. Whether you agree or disagree with Ellul, you are bound to be influenced and impressed by the intellectual effort put into this book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book put me in mind of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and The Last Man. Both document the ascendance of the person who is a rational and insecure seeker of comfort, afraid of passion and psychologically tiny: the individual with a small "i". Ellul is pessimistic. Our plight is due to our complete immersion in technique, the end of which is "the one best way" and efficiency. Against this there is no appeal and human spirituality and individualism are left behind as the "mass man" is created. This is the person who seeks only pleasure and entertainment and doesn't see his/her loss of uniqueness, beguiled by the products of technology and the promise of material progress. Technology is the answer to all things and the destroyer of all that is not technique. This is not due to a malign intent but simply the result of technique itself. There is no escape from technique, it permeates our world. An excellent example is the writer who, though wanting to express a different perspective is forced through the sieve of the techniques of the publishing business in order for the composition to see the light of day. Ellul makes a strong and frightening case. The one major oversight, for which we cannot blame one who wrote in 1964, is the power of the Internet for individual expression. He would, however, likely maintain that although this is an outlet for expression, the individual's voice is still lost in a cacaphony of other voices, as a result of the techniques of computer communication. Not an easy read, this book is an intellectual delight. Ellul's ideas are even more powerful today for the fact that they have not been contradicted but reinforced in the 35 years since he wrote.
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