The Third Wave (book

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The Third Wave
Author(s) Country Language Genre(s) Publisher Publication date Media type ISBN Alvin Toffler United States English Social Science, History, Futurology Bantam Books (USA) 1980 Hardcover, Paperback ISBN 0-517-32719-8 (hardcover), ISBN 0-553-24698-4 (paperback)

For Samuel P. Huntington's book, go to The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century The Third Wave is a book published in 1980 by Alvin Toffler. It is the sequel to Future Shock, published in 1970, and the second in what was originally just a trilogy that was continued with Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century in 1990. A new addition Revolutionary Wealth was published, however, in 2006 and may be considered as a major expansion of The Third Wave. Toffler's book describes the transition in developed countries from Industrial Age society, which he calls the "Second Wave", to Information Age "Third Wave" society.

Contents
• • • • •

1 Toffler's Wave Theory 2 Anthropological Interpretation 3 Key Characteristics Of The Third Wave Society 4 Fourth Wave 5 Publication

1300-1200 BC being as dramatic as that demarcating Toffler's waves. in addition to Toffler's "Third Wave society". there is no clear delineation of the latest transition. Toffler writes: • "The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production. and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy." The Third Wave is the post-industrial society.Toffler's Wave Theory In the book Toffler describes three types of societies. The transition from Toffler's First Wave and Second Wave is sometimes also recognized as a transition from the Iron Age to the Steel Age. This coincides with the transition from the Mesolithic era to the Neolithic era (respectively. At present. the boundary between the latter two c. • The Second Wave is Industrial Age society. which replaced hunter-gatherer cultures. The Second Wave began in Western Europe with the Industrial Revolution. You combine those things with standardization. originating from Daniel Bell. centralization. related archaic human species. mass distribution. distinctions are recognized between the Stone Age era Bronze Age. Iron Age. in turn. based on the concept of 'waves' each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside. is used. mass recreation. mass entertainment. such as the Information Age. in part due to the prevalence of the latter phase amongst present-day preindustrial societies. mass media. mass consumption. Key Characteristics Of The Third Wave Society . concentration. a factory-type education system and the corporation. the Middle and Late Stone Age). and weapons of mass destruction. and subsequently spread across the world. Toffler says that since the late 1950s most countries have been transitioning from a Second Wave society into a Third Wave society. though sometimes the term Post-industrial society. He coined many words to describe it and mentions names invented by others. mass education. • Anthropological Interpretation The transition from the earlier hunter-gatherer societies to the agrarian and agricultural societies is also known as the Neolithic Revolution. largely coincides with the emergence of the modern Homo sapiens from earlier. hunter-gatherer societies (which one might term the "0th Wave" societies) are not recognized in Toffler's scheme. None of these phases are clearly recognized in the Toffler scheme. and synchronization. The transition from the Paleolithic to the Mesolithic (Early to Middle Stone Age). in the classical Three-age system. Nearly extinct in the present-day world. Similarly. The First Wave is the settled agricultural society which prevailed in much of the world after the Neolithic Revolution. Key aspects of Second Wave society are the nuclear family.

This was significantly expanded on in the sequel Powershift. NAFTA or International Criminal Court. • .This section may contain original research. high volume mass production and distribution. such as East Timor. such as has characterized the politics of the United States in the 21st century. the frequent incidence of separatist movements. Cell Phones. the USSR. such as the education system. It would include the progressive hemmingin of national economies and of nation-states under a growing network of supernational organizations and affiliations. It would include the rise of regional interests and the progressive devolution of the nation-state itself. governments.g. the North American Union. secular). as exemplified in the one-size-fits-all approach typical of institutions of this era. with female life expectancy now as much as 10 years greater than male life expectancy throughout the former USSR.g.g. The criticism came down particularly hard on the former Stalinist societies. particularly along gender lines. However. secular) and elsewhere. e. the emergence of microstates. of Nunavut and Canada. • The emergence of various high technologies. the rise of non-national and super-national powers. nanotechnology. with the dramatic transitions of the past two decades (e. • The assault on the nation-state from below would include both the gradual loss of consensus. multinational corporations. the autonomization of Wales and Scotland in Britain. as well as organizations such as the WTO. that have in recent years seen a substantial dislocation. etc. religions with global reach. • The attack on the nation-state from above and below and progressive obsolescence of the nation-state itself. • The assault on the nation-state from above would include the rise of powerful non-national entities: IGO's. as well as political turmoil in China (largely split amongst urban-rural lines). (June 2010) Though the society foreseen is still emerging. Czechoslovakia. Among others. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. the Islamic world (fundamentalist or traditional vs. Internet. • The eclipsing of monetary wealth by knowledge and information as the primary determinant of power and its distribution. e. these included The rolling back of the Industrial-Era creed of "standardization". Ethiopia. etc. the dissolution of Yugoslavia.). Israel (orthodox vs. the European Union. global communications networks. such as cloning. such as in Chechnya. several distinguishing features were posed as characteristic of this new society. and even terrorist organizations or cartels. Germany (the deadlock following the 2005 elections). mass media. This was also discussed more fully in the sequel Powershift. the newly formed African Union. More details may be available on the talk page. etc. • The eclipsing of manufacturing and manufacturing goods by knowledgeproduction and information-processing as the primary economic activity. these aspects were discussed in greater depth in Future Shock and somewhat deemphasized in the Third Wave. and equating value with product (as opposed equating value with information). factories. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. where Toffler nearly drew the line between the two along gender lines. coining the term "Material-Ismo" (a play on "machismo") to represent the infatuation with the industrial era world of manufacturing (as opposed to paper-pushing).

In the framework of the Wave Theory of Toffler. would represent the very archetype of the Second Wave writ large. given that the Third Wave has only reached its crest with the advent of the Internet. popular assemblies.A transformation of the very character of democracy. etc. Therefore. labor unions. To a large extent. rather than another major historical watershed. This became particularly acute in the 1993 addendum War and Anti-War which raised the issue of the "Genie out of the Bottle" (nuclear proliferation) and the illusion of the "Zone of Peace" being broken (i. • Despite the forecast of the obsolescence of the order of nation-states. London. but remained silent on the questions of what changes in the structure of the world would be required to resolve these dilemmas. Nor is one likely. . Curiously. though it has not yet congealed in the form of a fundamental revision of the constitution of any state.g. which forecasts and advocates the rise of a form of eco-globalism in the 21st century.). religions affiliations. etc. itself. itself. may be seen as a first step in this direction. 9-11. one of the central themes of Future Shock is that history. if constituted along lines similar to present-day nation states. would accelerate to the point where all of the past would catch up with the present. IGO's. A closer reading of the book. titled Fourth Wave: Business in the 21st Century by Herman Bryant Maynard and Susan E Mehrtens. however. as well as the question of what kind of world order would supersede the order of nation-states. following the election crisis of 2000. published in 1993. the question is still unresolved and no official word has been forthcoming from Toffler. all brought together in an overlapping mix) was left open. what was not forecast was the emergence of a world political union cast in the form of the United States of Earth.e. Madrid. toward a more direct interaction between the government and its populace. Toffler left open both the question of what the outcome of the transformation of the structure of democracy was to entail. the question has been raised with increasing frequency as to whether a Fourth Wave is looming or already underway with the most recent dislocations that appear to be taking place in the world.. businesses. the potential of a federal world union cast in the mould of a heterogeneous mix (e. may mistake its central theme as a partial completion of the questions left open by Toffler concerning the nature of Third Wave society at the global level. this has already emerged with the rise of the Internet. There has already been one book. if the nation-state is to become obsolete and "United State of Earth" type global organizations just as much so. The trend toward on-line voting in the United States. given the quote "the sweeping synthesis [of the trilogy] Powershift). and the rise of super-national entities. such an institution. Fourth Wave Though talk about another major historical watershed on par with the Neolithic Revolution may seem premature. from rule-byperiodic polling at the election booth. However. nations.

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