What effects will the current economic crisis have on the long-term development of our societies? What does the future hold in store when we emerge from the crisis? These two questions lie at the heart of this important new book by the leading French sociologist Alain Touraine.
In an era dominated by the global economy and the triumph of individualism, our society has broken away from the old model of integration in place since the industrial revolution. We no longer see ourselves as players in an economic system around which every aspect of society is ordered but rather as individuals with our own rights, capable of creating our own lives in a world in which cultural values prevail.
The financial crisis and the growing autonomy of speculative and financial imperatives have exacerbated the rift between the economy and society and could push this long-term tendency in either of two directions. On the one hand, individuals who find themselves unemployed, impoverished and stripped of their savings may feel increasingly excluded and incapable of reacting politically, which would explain the silence of many victims of the crisis. On the other hand, individuals could also find themselves transformed into social actors who are defined increasingly in moral and universal terms, in which case the crisis could help to precipitate a long-term cultural evolution. We are facing a future as yet undecided, a future hovering between catastrophe and radical reform. This book explores the factors that could tip the balance.
Alain Touraine is Research Director at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
Acknowledgements Introduction Part One: Crises in context Chapter 1: Beyond the industrial society Chapter 2: The crisis of capitalist society Chapter 3: The crisis situation Chapter 4: The breakdown of society Chapter 5: Profit versus rights Part two: A possible society Chapter 6: The hypothesis Chapter 7: The post-social situation Chapter 8: The emergence of non-social actors Chapter 9: New social and political institutions Conclusions Summary Bibliography