The Evolution of the Future
By Frank W. Elwell

The author argues that recent changes in social structures (for example corporations, education, or the family) and culture (our socially created and shared symbolic understanding of our world) are interrelated and rooted in massive changes in population size and industrial growth.  By systematically relating the analysis of these sociocultural phenomena to the whole and to one another this volume presents a framework that can serve to organize and integrate many diverse theories, insights, and much empirical information into a comprehensive worldview.

"In our considerations of our future, we must expect a lot of continuity with our past," contends Frank W. Elwell in a volume that directly challenges the popular notion that America and other industrialized nations are undergoing a transition to post-industrialism. He questions the methodology of futurists who first identify a present trend, work out the full implications of that trend, and finally extrapolate a future society built around those implications. Comparing it to science fiction writing, he asserts that simple trend analysis is devoid of both explicit theory and any sense of history. While eschewing historical or theoretical frameworks, Elwell argues, the futurist is free to select or create trends out of singular events that correspond to personal hopes or fears. For these reasons, futurists often produce contradictory versions of technological and/or socialist utopias or totalitarian anti-utopias; environmental collapse; social breakdown and anarchy; or versions of a postindustrial society. The Evolution of the Future evaluates futurist projections in terms of their consistency with history and theory and concludes that the processes of technological development are rooted in our industrial past and present. The book focuses on cultural materialism, social evolution, organizational power, and the politics of the future, using current data and a comprehensive theoretical perspective. Elwell also provides a thorough evaluation of futurist literature as he assesses environmental limits, postindustrial dreams, totalitarian nightmares, and the evolution of the future. Written for non-specialists and aimed at social observers, the book introduces readers to some contemporary sociological/anthropological theory and substantive findings regarding bureaucracy and elitism, as well as futurist literature on the environment, post-industrialism, and totalitarianism--all in terms readily understandable to a general audience.

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Sociocultural Materialism; Sociocultural Evolution; Structures of Authority; Economic Rationalization; The Decline of Commitment; Factual Regularities; The Widening Gyre; The New Ideology; Possibilities; References; Index.

Praeger Publication Date: May 30, 1991 | ISBN-10: 0275938972 | ISBN-13: 978-0275938970

Related sites:
Classical Theorists
In the Classical Tradition

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