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The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era Paperback – April 16, 1996

3.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this challenging report, social activist Rifkin (Biosphere Politics) contends that worldwide unemployment will increase as new computer-based and communications technologies eliminate tens of millions of jobs in the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. He traces the devastating impact of automation on blue-collar, retail and wholesale employees, with a chapter devoted to African Americans. While a small elite of corporate managers and knowledge workers reap the benefits of the high-tech global economy, the middle class continues to shrink and the workplace becomes ever more stressful, according to Rifkin. As the market economy and public sector decline, he forsees the growth of a "third sector"-voluntary and community-based service organizations-that will create new jobs with government support to rebuild decaying neighborhoods and provide social services. To finance this enterprise, he advocates scaling down the military budget, enacting a value-added tax on nonessential goods and services and redirecting federal and state funds to provide a "social wage" in lieu of welfare payments to third-sector workers. 50,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Global unemployment is now at its highest levels since the Great Depression. Rifkin (Biosphere Politics, LJ 5/15/91) argues that the Information Age is the third great Industrial Revolution. A consequence of these technological advances is the rapid decline in employment and purchasing power that could lead to a worldwide economic collapse. Rifkin foresees two possible outcomes: a near workerless world in which people are free, for the first time in history, to pursue a utopian life of leisure; or a world in which unemployment leads to an even further polarization of the economic classes and a decline in living conditions for millions of people. Rifkin presents a highly detailed analysis of the technological developments that have led to the current situation, as well as intriguing, yet alarming, theories of what is to come. Highly recommended for both general and business collections.
Gary W. White, Pennsylvania State Univ., Harrisburg
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; New edition edition (April 16, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874778247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874778243
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jeremy Rifkin has distilled much of what is brewing below the surface in our economy and weaved it into a compelling thesis that deserves serious attention from academia and the public at large. A gifted social scientist and economist, Rifkin transcends the "Megatrends" genre, and provides us with a compelling analysis and dissection of a post-market economy that sits clearly on the horizon. Many who have read and critiqued this book have siezed upon it's liberal view for the future, however, no one has disputed the issues he has raised which clearly depict an economy where labor is in declining demand, and sophisticated computer automation will replace large sectors of our current economy. Perhaps the one flaw in Rifkin's book is that he presents a vision for the future that is polemical in its political orientation. I was deeply disturbed by Mr. Rifkin's findings, because I fear that I could easily become among the ranks of the technologically displaced. But I read this book twice, because I realized that if I am to keep ahead of the game, I need to know which way the wind is blowing, and ensure that I don't fall victim to what millions of workers are destined for in the years to come. With out a doubt, the most prescient and trenchant non-fiction book I've read in ten years.
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"We are entering a new age of global markets and automated production. The road to a near-workerless economy is within sight. Whether that road leads to a safe haven or a terrible abyss will depend on how well civilization prepares for the post-market era that will follow on the heels of the Third Industrial Revolution. The end of work could spell a death sentence for civilization as we have come to know it. The end of work could also signal the beginning of a great social transformation, a rebirth of the human spirit. The future lies in our hands."
Thus ends the book, leaving no neat little answers - negative OR positive, but urging us to open our eyes and look around us. I'd seen him on C-span and promptly ordered his book through Amazon. This was when it first came out in hardcover and my oldest son, assured of a future work using skills from his newly obtained Masters in Computer Science, was concerned I was reading such a book. "Isn't he one of those Luddites?" I think of myself as a wanna be Luddite, but I saw no signs of this in the book. Instead, Rifkin seems to be concerned with the coming affects of the Informational Revolution.
The book begins with a history of the Industrial Revolution. He gives us a nice tour of the birth of materialism as a concept created and promoted by economists and businessmen. "The term `consumption," he tells us, "has both English and French roots. In its original form, to consume meant to destroy, to pillage, to subdue, to exhaust. It is a word steeped in violence and until the present century had only negative connotations.
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Format: Paperback
With "The End of Work," Jeremy Rifkin has combined detailed research with insightful analysis to spread a warning message that any amateur futurist, economist, or social commentator needs to consider seriously before rejecting. Rifkin's thesis is simple: human labor has been, to a large extent, replaced by machinery in the production process, and this trend will continue to subsume jobs that require great amounts of skill, as computers and machines become increasingly capable of performing such tasks. The result is going to be a permanently unemployed and underemployed workforce, as labor becomes more extraneous, and the symptoms will be manifest in growing wealth disparity, and an increasingly dangerous world, as the unemployed become politically radicalized, and turn to violence, whether random, economic, and political.

First, I feel compelled to acknowledge the elephant in the room, which is that Rifkin's thesis is decidedly Marxist. The idea of post-scarcity and the replacement of labor with automation, as well as the consequences that Rifkin forewarns of, were all predicted by Karl Marx throughout his career as a political agitator. That Rifkin's prescriptions are more moderate than Marx's does not make the diagnosis less Marxist. As a longtime libertarian and believer in capitalism, I would like to be able to dismiss Rifkin's thesis out of hand, as many reviewers of a conservative bent do and have. However, the care with which Rifkin has researched this book and the consistency of his analysis, as well as his stature as a scholar, compel me to consider his argument more carefully.

One positive trait of the book is that it was written fifteen years ago. As such, it is somewhat dated.
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Format: Paperback
Fast forward, December 2008, and the impending economic collapse of America. Hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost, millions of service sector jobs, near collapse of domestic auto industry, housing and mortgage meltdown, credit card crunch, trillion dollar government bailouts. Most of these jobs will NEVER return. What are all these displaced workers going to do for sustenance? Mr. Rifkin nailed it in this book: The Rise of a Massive Welfare State. That day has arrived. Technology didn't do it, I don't think. Rampant greed and colossal corruption on all levels, including the financial industry and lack of government regulation sent this country over the cliff in a short order of time.
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