APPROACHING A NEW MILLENNIUM: LESSONS FROM THE PAST - PROSPECTS FOR THE
The seventh conference of the International Society for the Study of
Bergen, Norway August 14 - 18, 2000
Future Shock Revisited: Europe Facing the New Millennium
In his book Future Shock (1970), Alvin Toffler defines future shock [a]s a time phenomenon, a product of the greatly accelerated rate of change in society. It arises from the superimposition of a new culture on an older one (p. 11). It occurs when individual[s are] forced to operate above [their] adaptive range (p. 344). We are forcing them to process information at a far more rapid pace than was necessary in slowly-evolving societies... What consequences this may have for mental health in the techno-societies has yet to be determined (p. 355). [O]ne widespread response to high-speed change is outright denial. The Denier's strategy is to "block out" unwelcome reality... A second strategy of the future shock victim is specialism. The Specialist doesn't block out all novel ideas or information. Instead, he energetically attempts to keep pace with change--but only in a specific narrow sector of life... A third common response to future shock is obsessive reversion to previously successful adaptive routines that are now irrelevant and inappropriate... Finally, we have the Super-Simplifier, [who] invests every idea he comes across with universal relevance... He trades a host of painful and seemingly insoluble troubles for one big problem, thus radically, if temporarily, simplifying existence (p. 359-361). [T]he future shock victim who does employ these strategies experiences a deepening sense of confusion and uncertainty. Caught in the turbulent flow of change, called upon to make significant, rapid-fire life decisions, he feels not simply intellectual bewilderment, but disorientation at the level of personal values (p. 363). Social rationality presupposes individual rationality, and this, in turn, depends not only on certain biological equipment, but on continuity, order and regularity in the environment. It is premised on some correlation between the pace and complexity of change and man's decisional capacities (p. 366).
This workshop would like to revisit the future shock theme by discussing those psychological factors that will impact Europeans as the European Union and the respective nation-states attempt to establish it's own form of tradition, philosophy and democracy during this Digital and Global Age.
Submit online at www.multifest.com/ISSEI2000/, or by snail mail.
Edward K. Brown II
P.O. Box 2160
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)