Future Shock – Discussing the Changing Temporal Architecture of Daily Life

by Mika Pantzar


Alvin Toffler’s classic book Future Shock (1970) argued that in our world of ever-quickening change, the human mind is threatened by shattering. Almost forty years after its publication, the book still feels fresh. Based on interviews with experts, the book became a bestseller in the field of futures studies, and defined futures studies for many decades to come. (Paradoxically, the apex of futures studies has been slow to change although the world is said to be changing faster than ever.) It is hardly a coincidence that the publication of Future Shock took place at precisely the time the first few international comparative studies of time use were published. This article addresses Toffler’s claim of the acceleration of our everyday life rhythms in the light of international empirical time use studies. In addition, it pays attention to more recent theoretical developments aiming to understand social rhythms.

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