The third wave

by Alvin Toffler

Paper Book, 1980


From the author of Future Shock, a striking way out of today's despair . . . a bracing, optimistic look at our new potentials. The Third Wave makes startling sense of the violent changes now battering our world. Its sweeping synthesis casts fresh light on our new forms of marriage and family, on today's dramatic changes in business and economics. It explains the role of cults, the new definitions of work, play, love, and success. It points toward new forms of twenty-first-century democracy. Praise for The Third Wave   "Magnificent . . . an astonishing array of information."--The Washington Post   "Imperishably fresh."--Business Week   "Will mesmerize readers, and rightly so."--Vogue "Alvin Toffler . . . has written another blockbuster . . . a powerful book."--The Guardian   "Fresh ideas, clearly explained. . . . Toffler has proven again that he is a master."--United Press International   "Toffler has imagination and an ability to think of various future possibilities by transcending prevailing values, assumptions and myths."--Associated Press   "Once you have walked into his version of the future, you may decide never again to whitewash some of the built-in frailties of the real present."--Financial Post   "Rich, stimulating and basically optimistic . . . will unquestionably aid many to a greater understanding of [today's] puzzling social changes."--The Globe & Mail   "A detailed breathtakingly bold projection of the social changes required if we are to survive. . . . Toffler's vision of a democratic, self-sustaining utopia is a brave alternative to recent grim warnings."--Cosmopolitan… (more)



Call number



New York : Bantam Books, 1981, c1980.

User reviews

LibraryThing member encephalical
Toffler's main thesis, that de-massification of production is leading to a kind of economy based upon home-based, independent, information-work contractors slash everyone has a home makerspace run by their off-grid, or perhaps, decentralized peer-peer networked alternative energy sources doesn't
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seem any more or less likely than any other imagined future. I think he'd be disappointed at how reactionary "Second Wavers" have been and how successfully they've caught the Third Wave. E.g., "school choice" to my knowledge is almost entirely the purview of the conservative religious movement, not progressives. Toffler does acknowledge that these historical Waves are amoral and spends some time talking about bad scenarios, though his overwhelming thrust is optimistic. I have to wonder how much of the pessimistic parts were a response to the general 70's malaise.

What always cracks me up about books like this is, here is someone that has come up with a comprehensive anthropological and historical explanation and framework for human history and future development, yet is neither an anthropologist nor a historian. Does his outsider status give him a clarity of vision, or is he essentially just a somewhat ponderous science fiction author? When picturing The book's scenarios, I kept thinking of SnowCrash and The Diamond Age, also The Dispossessed, which all imagine de-centralized, de-massified societies.
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LibraryThing member Dilip-Kumar
Toffler (Alvin with his wife Heidi), of course, is one of the sages of the 20th century, and this book is another triumph of intuition, understanding, and a keen sense of ongoing processes. The main thesis is that the western world is coming to the end of the industrial revolution, and is
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transforming itself in many ways that amount toa Third Wave (the first was the Agricultural revolution, the second the Industrial). In this new dispensation, peoplemaree no longer dependent on society and their neighbours, they no longer want steady jobs, the economy gradually moves away from producing industrial and manufactured goods toward intellectual and knowledge products (and entertainment and creative works) for both production and consumption at the same time: the rise of the 'prosumer'. Many aspects of Toffler's scenario find ready resonance in our own experience: the younger generation not going after settled jobs, or residence, or marriage. But the question arises: is this a manifestation of a rise above a certain level of wealth, or is it something happening right across classes? The book, brilliant though it is, has certain drawbacks: its inordinate size (a very Second Wave character!), a frequent tendency to exaggerate and universalize, and the almost complete blind spot to religious fundamentalism and geopolitical hegemony. Hence the three stars.
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LibraryThing member mykl-s
An early look at what post-industrial society might look like.


Original publication date



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