Future Shock - book cover
Science & Math
  • Publisher : Ballantine Books
  • Published : 11 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 624
  • ISBN-10 : 0593159470
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593159477
  • Language : English

Future Shock

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The classic work that predicted the anxieties of a world upended by rapidly emerging technologies-and now provides a road map to solving many of our most pressing crises. 

"Explosive . . . brilliantly formulated." -The Wall Street Journal 

Future Shock is the classic that changed our view of tomorrow. Its startling insights into accelerating change led a president to ask his advisers for a special report, inspired composers to write symphonies and rock music, gave a powerful new concept to social science, and added a phrase to our language. Published in over fifty countries, Future Shock is the most important study of change and adaptation in our time. 

In many ways, Future Shock is about the present. It is about what is happening today to people and groups who are overwhelmed by change. Change affects our products, communities, organizations-even our patterns of friendship and love. 

But Future Shock also illuminates the world of tomorrow by exploding countless clichés about today. It vividly describes the emerging global civilization: the rise of new businesses, subcultures, lifestyles, and human relationships-all of them temporary. 

Future Shock will intrigue, provoke, frighten, encourage, and, above all, change everyone who reads it.

Editorial Reviews

"Revealing, exciting, encouraging, brilliant."-The Christian Science Monitor

"In the risky business of social and cultural criticism, there appears an occasional book that manages . . . to shape our perceptions of its times. Alvin Toffler's immensely readable yet disquieting study may service the same purpose for our own increasingly volatile world."-Newsweek

"Alvin Toffler has sent something of a shock-wave through Western society."-Daily Express (London)

"To the elite . . . who often get committed to age-old institutions or material goals alone, let Toffler's Future Shock be a lesson and a warning."-The Time of India

Readers Top Reviews

LovetoreadEdward B.
I wanted to read it again, because I read it when it first came out and wanted to know if anything came out as the author envisioned. Some things were uncannily accurate and some just strange. Some things he didn't emphasize much, like the environment and women's rights. Some sexist attitudes were apparent, probably without the author even realizing it. Some areas we have not progressed as far as he thought we would, such as transportation. If you remember the times, or if you read it when it came out in 1970, you may like to read it. Or even if you're just curious.
kindle reader
Excellent book on the increasing change and with suggestions on what we can do to manage it. A friend suggested this and said he'd been reading it each decade since high school. I can see why. Highly predictive, it actually talks about an "Alexa". So much to ponder. This book has transformed my world view.
D. Maclay
I read this book in the 70's and it prepared me for this time in history. Now I buy it for others so they can make sense of a world that seems to be moving too fast.
G. Max Gooding
This is a visionary work of literature, that was written in 1970. What is amazing is the realities of today that this author has so accurately captured 40 years ago. The book anticipated what we are facing today, an accelerated rate of changes in technology. Every couple of months, as you may now be aware, CPU chip speeds in desktop and laptop computers keep increasing. Staying on the cutting edge of technology is almost a full-time job. Next we are faced with an ever-changing cellular phone and MP3 player product range. Now, even the way we read books is changing with things like the ipad and the kindle. Where will this all end? Do we have to keep running just to keep pace with what's happening? The Internet and the dramatic impact that this has made, may not even have been fully envisioned by this author, but it is here and evolving at its own rate, making the earth a global village. Mr. Toffler attacks this problem in Six Parts as follows: - The Death of Permanence - Transience - Novelty - Diversity - The Limits of Adaptability - Strategies for Survival In the end, each of us must formulate our own strategies for this rapidly and ever changing world that we now live in. This author, has given some clinical and effective methods that we can tailor to our own personal situation. We must all continue to adjust or run the risk of being left behind and becoming 'obsolete'.
Quantum RainFlatPick
Very knowledgable about the times. Information and insights are still relevant today, but it’s a bit aged calling blacks Negros and the text is too small on the kindle to be comfortably read. I should have been done with a long time ago.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1

The 800th Lifetime

In the three short decades between now and the twenty-first century, millions of ordinary, psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future. Citizens of the world's richest and most technologically advanced nations, many of them will find it increasingly painful to keep up with the incessant demand for change that characterizes our time. For them, the future will have arrived too soon.

This book is about change and how we adapt to it. It is about those who seem to thrive on change, who crest its waves joyfully, as well as those multitudes of others who resist it or seek flight from it. It is about our capacity to adapt. It is about the future and the shock that its arrival brings.

Western society for the past 300 years has been caught up in a fire storm of change. This storm, far from abating, now appears to be gathering force. Change sweeps through the highly industrialized countries with waves of ever accelerating speed and unprecedented impact. It spawns in its wake all sorts of curious social flora-from psychedelic churches and "free universities" to science cities in the Arctic and wife-swap clubs in California.

It breeds odd personalities, too: children who at twelve are no longer childlike; adults who at fifty are children of twelve. There are rich men who playact poverty, computer programmers who turn on with LSD. There are anarchists who, beneath their dirty denim shirts, are outrageous conformists, and conformists who, beneath their button-down collars, are outrageous anarchists. There are married priests and atheist ministers and Jewish Zen Buddhists. We have pop . . . ​and op . . . ​and art cinétique . . . ​There are Playboy Clubs and homosexual movie theaters . . . ​amphetamines and tranquilizers . . . ​anger, affluence, and oblivion. Much oblivion.

Is there some way to explain so strange a scene without recourse to the jargon of psychoanalysis or the murky clichés of existentialism? A strange new society is apparently erupting in our midst. Is there a way to understand it, to shape its development? How can we come to terms with it?

Much that now strikes us as incomprehensible would be far less so if we took a fresh look at the racing rate of change that makes reality seem, sometimes, like a kaleidoscope run wild. For the acceleration of change does not merely buffet industries or nations. It is a concrete force that reaches deep into our personal lives, compels us to act out new roles, and confronts us with the danger of a new and powerfully upsetting psychological disease. This new disease can be called "future shock," and a knowledge of its sources and symptoms helps explain many things that otherwise defy rational analysis.

The Unprepared Visitor

The parallel term "culture shock" has already begun to creep into the popular vocabulary. Culture shock is the effect that immersion in a strange culture has on the unprepared visitor. Peace Corps volunteers suffer from it in Borneo or Brazil. Marco Polo probably suffered from it in Cathay. Culture shock is what happens when a traveler suddenly finds himself in a place where yes may mean no, where a "fixed price" is negotiable, where to be kept waiting in an outer office is no cause for insult, where laughter may signify anger. It is what happens when the familiar psychological cues that help an individual to function in society are suddenly withdrawn and replaced by new ones that are strange or incomprehensible.

The culture shock phenomenon accounts for much of the bewilderment, frustration, and disorientation that plagues Americans in their dealings with other societies. It causes a breakdown in communication, a misreading of reality, an inability to cope. Yet culture shock is relatively mild in comparison with the much more serious malady, future shock. Future shock is the dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future. It may well be the most important disease of tomorrow.

Future shock will not be found in Index Medicus or in any listing of psychological abnormalities. Yet, unless intelligent steps are taken to combat it, millions of human beings will find themselves increasingly disoriented, progressively incompetent to deal rationally with their environments. The malaise, mass neurosis, irrationality, and free-floating violence already apparent in contemporary life are merely a foretaste of what may lie ahead unless we come to understand and treat this disease.

Future shock is 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 old one. It is culture shock in one's own society. But its impact is far worse. For most Pea...