Social movement scholars have always been deeply involved
in understanding the nature of social change. From Marx’s work on
dialectic materialism to the advent of New Social Movement theory,
SM researchers have sought to map the future of society and foresee
the role of social movements in either advancing or reacting to
that change. Despite this intimate involvement with issues of social
change and the future, SM researchers have not taken advantage of
the burgeoning literature produced by the field of Future Studies.
This paper seeks to introduce the work of the noted futurist Alvin
Toffler to the study of SMs. I will present his model of future
social change and the implications of this model for visions of
SMs in the future.
Social Movements Theories and the Future: A Literature
Prognostications of what the future will bring have
been a staple of social movement research since its infancy. Beginning
with the work of Karl Marx and continuing on through the NSM theses,
social movement researchers have presented arguments that either
offer specific expectations about the future or that can be projected
into the future.
This in part arises because of the intimate connection
between modernization and social movements. Social movements have
often been seen as reactions to the forces of modernization whether
it is the growth of capitalism and the advent of the nation-state
(Tilly 1986), the rise of industrialization (Tilly, Tilly and Tilly
1975), the global spread of capitalism (Barber 1995), or the advent
of the post-industrial society (Pichardo1997).
Marx’s theory of dialectic materialism is easily the
best example since he offered specific predictions of the future.
But Marx’s model was based on the belief that industrial capitalism
was the final stage of capitalist development before the rise of
socialism. Hence, Marx has nothing to say about the post-industrial
The New Social Movement theses are post-Marxist conceptions
of SMs that were formulated as a direct response to the perceived
failures of Marxism. A number of these can be classified as sharing
a number of general characteristics known as the State Intrusion
(SI) hypotheses (see Pichardo 1997). The State Intrusion hypothesis
argues that because of the rise of the post-industrial economy,
contemporary SMs operate in a different economic environment (post-industrial
age) than previous movements where the conditions necessary for
capital accumulation have changed thus altering the actions of capitalists
and consequently the orientation, actions, structure, and participants
Contemporary movements are said to differ in several
ways from those of the industrial era. First, the ideology and goals
of the movements emphasize direct participation in the political
process and concern for quality of life issues. They advocate direct
democracy and question the materialistic orientation of society
as well as the negative externalities of economic growth (pollution,
suburban sprawl). Their ideology also emphasizes identity issues
and believes that politics should be imbued with identity concerns.
It is in this vein that the notion of the "personal as political"
is espoused. It is believed that every act we engage in has political
ramifications and that politics pervades all areas of social life.
This results in NSMs having a self-reflexive character or an ability
to critically reflect back on themselves. This, in turn, leads activists
to make a conscious choice of structure and tactics that reflect
the movement’s identity rather than being solely guided by instrumental
rationality, an example being the use of consciousness raising groups.
Second, the different tactical posture of contemporary
movements is said to mirror their ideological orientation. They
tend to use non-institutional tactics relying heavily on mobilizing
public opinion and are thereby dependent on mass media. In order
to attract media coverage, they tend to employ highly dramatic events
in order to mobilize media coverage.
Fourth, and relatedly, the structure of NSMs are believed
to employ anti-bureaucratic organizational structures that are decentralized,
and non-hierarchical. They promote full direct participation by
rotating leadership and operating by consensus. Again, this stems
from their ideological orientation.
Lastly, the participants of NSMs emanate primarily
from the middle class. No longer is the working class seen as the
basis of social upheaval.
State Intrusion Hypothesis
The "State Intrusion" hypothesis is a neo-Marxist
view that links the rise of NSMs to the changing requirements of
capital accumulation in the post-modern age. With the advent of
a service/technical economy with its emphasis on growth and information
management, capital accumulation necessitates a social as well as
economic domination. Social domination involves controlling dissent
(ensuring conformity) and knowledge and therefore requires an expansion
of the state's coercive mechanisms into the civic sphere (Habermas
1987; Melucci 1984; Sassoon 1984; Touraine 1971). NSMs are concerned
with the "self-defense of "society" against the state ... and the
market economy..." (Cohen 1985:664). Habermas (1981) refers to the
process of the state and market economy to substitute strategic
action for the symbolic processes of communication as "inner colonization".
Mouffe (1984) offers a different version. She sees
a similar process except she links it to the commodification of
social life (where social needs depend on the market for satisfaction),
bureaucratization (resulting from the intervention of the state
into all areas of social reproduction), and cultural massification
(resulting from the pervasive influence of the mass media that destroys
or modifies existing collective identities). These new forms of
subordination are responsible for the rise of NSMs that represent
novel forms of resistance.
According to Mouffe (1984), the unique nature of conflict
in modern societies is said to be partly a function of three characteristics
of domination and deprivation. First, the impact of the state and
economy on society is said to no longer be class specific but "dispersed
in time, space, and kind so as to affect virtually every member
of society in a broad variety of ways" (Offe 1985:844). Second,
there has been a deepening of domination and social control making
its effects more comprehensive and inescapable. Third, the political
and economic institutions have lost the ability to correct their
own defects (irreversibility) requiring action from outside the
official political institutions to correct its flaws (Offe 1985).
The intrusion of the state into the cultural realm
requires counter-hegemonic actions by NSMs. This explains the cultural
basis of conflict in the modern era. NSMs are reactions to the state's
attempts to control the civic sphere. SMs are, therefore, now concerned
with cultural questions like sexual identity, roles, and community.
They also react to the growth policies of post-industrial economy.
These policies have two consequences, one is the creation of a mass
consumer society, and the other is negative environmental effects.
Lastly, the SI hypothesis argues that rather than
being engineered by the working class, NSMs are a product of the
new middle class employed in the non-productive sector of the economy
such as social workers, academics, and cultural producers (artists,
media). They engage in SMs partly because of their independence
from corporate sector and conflict centers around the control of
work and identity. They focus on the rules and regulations that
exist in corporate world as well as the types of individuals (identities)
corporation seek to fashion. Thus, the seat of revolutionary upheaval
has shifted from the working to the new middle class.
However, as a general theory of social movements in
the modern age, the NSM theses have been found to be lacking (see
Pichardo 1997). Among the criticisms are whether contemporary movements
are indeed any different from previous movements, the inability
to empirically establish a link between the actions of the state
and the incidence of NSMs, that the theses draw too heavily on left-wing
movements, and its untenability as a theory. Thus, our quest to
understand movements of the modern era continues. It is in service
of this quest that Toffler’s model of future change is offered.
TOFFLER’S THEORY OF FUTURE CHANGE
At its heart, Toffler’s theory is a model of social
change that argues that the transformation of the economy from the
Second Wave technologies of the industrial era to the Third Wave
technologies of the information age has brought with it a rapid
pace of social change. This pace of change is so rapid, Toffler
argues, that it is beyond the means of the individual to cope with.
He calls the consequence of the rapid change upon the individual
"Future Shock." Future Shock is defined "as the distress, both physical
and psychological, that arises from the overload of the human organism’s
physical adaptive systems and its decision-making process" (Toffler
He argues that the our lives are now characterized
by such high levels of transience, novelty, and diversity that human
beings can no longer adequately deal with these constant changes.
There are three consequences of these rapid social changes. First,
the traditional anchors of self in society have been undermined.
The traditional worlds of the family, church, and work no longer
function to provide any stability to life. Second, the pace of life
has increased tremendously. The increased pace of life is not only
a function of the "acceleration" of time itself in the modern age
but also that the very permanency of things and relationships has
diminished. Third, there has been a startling increase in the amount
of information that is available for people to consume that is beyond
the pale of the individual to cognitively deal with. This overchoice
and overstimulation is not only informational but decisional and
sensory as well.
The root of these social changes has been the economic
changes brought about by the arrival of the Third Wave. The progression
of society from the agricultural economy of the First Wave, to the
industrial economy of the Second Wave, and to the post-industrial
economy of the Third Wave has brought with it a radical alteration
of everyday life. With the advent of the Third Wave information
has become the central force in society. The creation and dissemination
of information has increasingly accelerated to levels unimagined
in the past.
The engine of this change is technology. Rather than
envisioning a monolithic future dominated by powerful bureaucratized
and centralized institutions or corporations, Toffler foresees the
opposite: a future where the emerging information age technologies
create an unstandardized, de-massified society. Where power is decentralized
and bureaucracies are obsolete. In this vision, the post-industrial
technology is moving away from the mass production of the industrial
age toward an economy where custom-made goods are possible, where
the market can satisfy individual desires. In short, to a future
that is fragmented.
This fragmentation occurs on several levels. Not only
is there a lack of standardization on a product level but also on
a social level. The unity that once characterized village society
in the agricultural age has given way to the dis-unity of the modern
age where values are inconsistent, identities fleeting, and social
institutions (like the family) are unstable. The fragmentation of
modern life has dramatically increased the choices and options individuals
are confronted with while at the same time eroding the foundations
on which social life was once grounded. This fragmentation results
in the diversification of identity: in a surfeit of subcults. With
the pace of life increasing to dramatic levels and the fragmentation
of our social structures, we no longer have anywhere to anchor our
Not only has social life been radically altered, but
so too has the power bases of society. Toffler argues that this
is the dawn of the "Powershift" era; that "we live at a moment when
the entire structure of power that held the world together is now
disintegrating" (Toffler 1990:3). Toffler posits that there are
three bases of power: violence, wealth, and knowledge. Not only
has knowledge become the primary source of power in the modern age,
but force and wealth themselves have become dependent on knowledge
(see Toffler 1990:16-17).
In the 19th and 20th centuries,
nations went to war to seize control of the raw materials they
needed to feed their smokestack economies. In the 21st
century, the most basic of all materials will be knowledge (Toffler
This shift in the basis of power to knowledge means
that the control of information will not only be critical for the
new economy but for political institutions as well.
The shift in power also has a global dimension. "Looming
on the horizon … is a dangerous decoupling of the fast economies
from the slow, an event that could spark enormous power shifts throughout
the so-called South – with impacts on the planet as a whole" (Toffler
1990:398). "As the disparities [between different regions] widen,
they may well trigger an explosion of extremist movements demanding
regional or local autonomy or actual secession" (Toffler 1990:240).
Thus, the control of information will become the new mechanism of
oppression and differentiation. As noted by Toffler (1990), "everywhere,
as the super-symbolic economy develops, information issues became
more significantly political" (p. 316).
The shift in power is also foreseen as potentially
moving from the nation-state to what Toffler refers to as Global
Gladiators. The Global Gladiators are non-national organizations
that include religious groups, drug cartels, and transnational corporations
that now possess significant power.
Religion has become an important vehicle for popular
discontent in the modern age because it provides an alternate medium
of communication outside the direct control of the state. In this
way "organized religion [in Iran and South Korea] took the place
of, or merged with, a political opposition" (Toffler 1990:347).
But Toffler further argues that we may be experiencing a reawakening
of religion, "that we may be circling back to the kind of world
system that existed before industrialism, before political power
was packaged into clearly defined national entities" (Toffler 1990:451).
Toffler forewarns, for example, that
in the United States, it is not hard to imagine
some new political party running Billy Graham (or some facsimile)
on a crude "law-and-order" or "anti-porn" program with a strong
authoritarian streak. Or some as yet unknown Anita Bryant demanding
imprisonment for gays or "gay-symps." Such examples provide
only a faint, glimmering intimation of the religio-politics
that may well lie ahead, even in the most secular of societies.
One can imagine all sorts of cult-based political movements
headed by Ayatollahs named Smith, Schulz or Santini (1980:399).
Corporations are another organization that have been
undergoing dramatic changes brought on by the Third Wave. According
to Toffler, the corporation is struggling to operate in a
Volatile, confusing environment … The managers
who run them have no wish to relinquish corporate power. They
will battle for profits, production, and personal advancement.
But faced with soaring levels of unpredictability, with mounting
public criticisms, and hostile political pressures, our most
intelligent managers are questioning the goals, structure, responsibility,
the very raison de etre of their organizations. Many
of our biggest corporations are experiencing something analogous
to an identity crisis as they watch the once stable Second Wave
framework disintegrate around them (1980:229).
The Third Wave economy has altered the basic characteristics
of the environment in which corporations function.
Corporations are being forced to redefine themselves
in this environment. "The redefinition is not a matter of choice
but a necessary response to five revolutionary changes in the actual
conditions of production. Changes in the physical environment, in
the lineup of social forces, in the role of information, in government
organization, and in morality are all pounding the corporation into
a new multi-faceted, multi-purposeful shape (Toffler 1980:235).
Many of these changes have direct implications for SMs of the future.
The first of the new pressures is related to the biosphere.
"The demands on the planet are escalating wildly" (Toffler 1980:235)
manifested in terms of pollution, desertification, the poisoning
of the oceans and changes in climate. Clearly, these may generate
significant protests. The second pressure comes from the social
environment that is now more densely organized than ever. Thus,
actions taken by corporations now impact professionally organized
groups with political resources. Among these are SM organizations.
Third are the pressures from the de-massified info-sphere. This
leads corporations to consume large amounts of information and to
conflicts over the control of data. Thus, privacy issues become
important. Finally, there is heightened moral pressure that forces
corporations to alter their behavior. Toffler notes that a "citizen’s
movement of a type never before seen … is gradually gathering momentum,
one that criticizes the way corporations disrupt everyday life"
Today’s corporate critics start from a totally
different premise. They attack the artificial divorce of economics
from politics, morality, and the other dimensions of social
life. They hold the corporation increasingly responsible, not
merely for its economic performance but for its side effects
on everything from air pollution to executive stress. Corporations
are thus assailed for asbestos poisoning, for using poor populations
as guinea pigs in drug testing, for distorting the development
of the non-industrial world, for racism and sexism, for secrecy
and deception. They are pilloried for supporting unsavory regimes
or political parties, from the fascist generals in Chile and
the racists in South Africa to the Communist Party in Italy
The corporation is not only beset by a host a new
pressures, but its largest representatives, transnational corporations,
are also gathering significant power rivaling and surpassing those
of nation-states. They are rooted in many different nations, control
resources that dwarf those of many nations, engage in massive currency
exchanges, and control significant amounts of trade. Clearly, the
growing power of transnational corporations can change the locus
and direction of social protest in the future.
In sum, Toffler’s Future Shock thesis presents a consensus
based theory of social change where technological change has created
a dysfunctional society, a structural and cultural lag that has
created an imbalance in society between technological change and
social institutions. This results in psychological and physical
distress as people are asked to constantly adapt to change and are
confronted with overwhelming choice.
To survive, to avert what we have termed future
shock, the individual must become infinitely more adaptable
and capable then ever before. He must search out totally new
ways to anchor himself, for all the old roots- religion, nation,
community, family, or profession- are now shaking under the
hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust [of rapid social
change] (Toffler 1970:35).
Toffler calls for the reform of social institutions
as well as the creation of new ones to aid in this adjustment.
Additionally, technological change has resulted in
a shift in the bases of power toward knowledge. Thus, information
has become the key politicized issued of the modern age and the
fountainhead of all modern problems and conflicts. This shift to
knowledge has resulted in the transformation of large-scale social
organizations including nation-states and corporations. Toffler
foresees the decay of the nation-state and the growing power of
corporations and transnationals. He also sees a more densely organized
social sphere and growing levels of criticism from future citizens.
FUTURE SHOCK AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
To be fair, Toffler’s Future Shock thesis is not a
model of social movements. Nonetheless, the thesis says and infers
a great deal about social movements of the future. Essentially,
from Toffler’s writings four overarching types of movements can
be inferred. These can be described as a two-fold table with one
dimension being the level of effect of social change and the other
being the type of response.
Type of Response
||Mvmts that seek refuge from modern
||Mvmts that seek to embrace modern
||Mvmts that react to demise of social
||Mvmts that seek to accommodate to
The aspects of the modern age that are being reacted
or accommodated to, each rooted in the growing importance and centrality
of information in the modern age, are either the quickened pace
of life, the fragmentation of life, the introduction of new technologies,
or shifts in power. This reaction can be manifested at either an
individual or societal level.
As noted by Toffler "some people thrive on the new,
rapid pace, others are fiercely repelled by it and go to extreme
lengths to "get off the merry-go-round"" (1970:39), that is they
either seek to escape or accommodate to the pace of change. Individual-reactionary
movements, therefore, tend to take the shape of subcults. Some of
these subcults seek to return to a bygone era, where life was simpler
and slower. Other movements are more in tune with the dictates of
the modern age as they desire to be in sync with the quickened pace
of life as when they "wish to accelerate friendships" which helps
fascination with such psychological techniques
as "sensitivity training," "T-grouping," "micro-labs," so-called
"touchie-feelie" or non-verbal games and the whole group dynamics
phenomenon in general. The enthusiasm for communal living, too,
expresses the underlying sense of loneliness and inability to
"open up" with others (Toffler 1970:415).
Movements concerned with identity issues (feminist,
gay and lesbian) are characterized as individual-adaptive movements.
This may seem an odd classification as many would consider these
movements as counter-hegemonic. But Toffler would see these movements
as a product of the forces of social change in the modern era. As
noted by Toffler, new identities are proliferating as a consequence
of the decimation of the traditional anchors of self. Identity-based
movements are an attempt to legitimate new social identities, to
adapt to the changes in society.
Societal level reactions also take either reactive
or adaptive postures. On the reactive side, there is the demise
of so-called traditional institutions like family and religion as
well as changes resulting from the uneven progress of change as
some groups may experience downward social mobility or some regions
may be left behind or shut out of the information revolution. As
noted by Toffler, "populations sometimes resist the pace of change"
(1970:41). This has given rise to a spate of SMs generally associated
with the right-wing like the pro-family movement and fundamentalist
In terms of reacting to technological change, Toffler
the first glimmers of an international revolt
that will rock parliaments and congresses in the decades ahead.
The protest against the ravages of irresponsibly used technology
could crystallize in pathological form – as a future-phobic
fascism with scientists substituting for Jews in the concentration
Into this type can be included movements opposed to
biotechnology (whether that be human, animal, or plant bioengineering),
as well as the environmental, animal rights, and anti-abortion movements.
Toffler gives some discussion to environmental issues or, as he
refers to it, "Earth Politics."
The attempt to deal with [ecological] problems
will not only fragment old alliances, but breed more zealots
– world savers for whom environmental requirements (as they
define them) supersede the niceties of democracy" (1990:243).
What is curiously lacking in Toffler’s extended discussions
are reactions to the economic practices of globalization. Not that
he does not see a potential for transnational corporations (which
Toffler calls mega-firms) to destabilize the economy in that they
no longer serve the interests of any one nation or that the globalization
of the economy may not result in significant global powershifts
away from nations to corporations or from some regions to others.
But he phrases the potential conflicts in terms of a struggle between
nationalists and globalists. Nationalists defend their cultural
uniqueness and protest their absorption into the Western cultural
model. But this only acknowledges part of the burgeoning anti-globalization
movement. Direct citizen protests against the economic practices
of transnationals that seek to usurp our culture, that exploit third-world
workers, and result in the growing power of multinationals (see
Klein 1999) are not discussed although Toffler might counter that
his premise that "a change in the level of socially necessary order"
(Toffler 1990:463) brought about by the transition to a super symbolic
economy covers this point. Although Toffler discusses the shape
of the anti-globalization movement, in terms of the table above,
the anti-globalization movement is still categorized as a reaction
to the rise of the post-industrial economy although the form of
anti-globalization protest, from Toffler’s view, is limited to nationalist
reactions to globalization.
In terms of adaptive social movements, Toffler argues
that we should expect "a historic struggle to remake our political
institutions, bringing them into congruence with the revolutionary
post-mass production economy" (Toffler 1990:239). There will be
"pressures for political decentralization in all high-tech nations"
(Toffler 1990:240). Toffler does not specifically point to any examples
but his discussion of recent movements that extol the "right to
know" and harking privacy issues fall into this category. One might
further argue that some segments of the environmental movement that
have increased input into governmental policies through the use
of non-governmental organizations represent such adaptations of
In sum, Toffler seems to consider SMs in much the
same way as most consensus theorists, as signals that the normal
functioning of society has gone awry. He argues that solutions are
to be found in the creation of new social institutions and that
corporations will naturally act in the best interests of the whole
society. In fact, Toffler argues that the pressure to act morally
will bring the actions of corporations in line with those of social
justice. That the new corporation will have multiple "bottom lines."
He states that this change to ethical behavior is already taking
place (see Toffler 1980:235-243). Individuals who act out of outmoded
values (those rooted in the Second Wave) are bound to lose out as
he sees these changes as largely inevitable. Such a view tends to
Further, his language when referring to movements
tends to be extreme. He uses words like phobic, zealot, and extremist
in describing social movements. It seems that Toffler does not have
a positive image of SMs.
Nonetheless, Toffler offers an interesting model of
social change that deserves serious consideration alongside other
models of SMs in the contemporary age. But there are some problems
with Toffler’s model that stem from his consensus perspective of
social change. He sees social change as dominated by technology
but sees technological change as independent of power groups in
society. This leaves us guessing as to what is the engine of technological
change. He makes it seem that the introduction and development of
technology is natural social process. A related problem is that
there is an internal contradiction in his model. He argues that
corporations will be beset by new moral concerns that will pressure
their behavior while at the same time still needing to attend to
the bottom line. Yet, corporations cannot at the same time increase
their costs by instituting fair labor practices or responding to
environmental and political sensitivity while maximizing profit.
It would be more likely that corporations would try to avoid or
mute the cries for social justice rather than affect their true
bottom line – profits.
REFLECTIONS ON SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORY
Toffler presents a model of social change that when
abstracted can provide an alternative explanation for "new" social
movements, a model not previously recognized by SM researchers (see
Buechler 1995; Pichardo 1997). The Future Shock thesis when compared
to existing NSM theories provides an interesting contrast that revolves
around four characteristics of NSMs: the role of the media, public
opinion, decentralization, and identity concerns.
The State Intrusion thesis argues that movements in
the post-industrial economy take the shape they do in part because
they are centered on identity issues and because they utilize tactics
that are geared toward media coverage as a means of mobilizing favorable
public opinion. This emphasis on identity issues is thought to be
rooted in the intrusion of the state into the cultural realm. The
Future Shock thesis paints a contrasting picture. Identity concerns
are not a product of the "colonization of inner life" (Habermas,
1981) or the commodification of social life (Mouffe 1984) but rather
are a product of the fragmentation of social life that has led to
a proliferation of social identities. Toffler does not see identity
issues as necessarily being politicized. Rather he believes that
cults and other like identity-based solutions are more probable.
As for the role of the media, the State Intrusion
thesis argues that the reliance of NSMs on the media is a function
of their desire to operate outside of institutional channels (Pichardo
1997). Toffler (1980) also sees a significant role for the media
in the modern age. But rather than phrasing it in terms of institutional
versus non-institutional channels, he sees the media going through
the same processes as the economy in general; that is, a process
of de-massification. This proliferation of media inputs and outlets
(ranging from video cameras to fax machines to the internet) has
a potentially subversive quality (Toffler 1990). This subversion
resides in several characteristics of new age media: its mobility,
convertibility, connectivity, ubiquity, and globalization.
Mobility refers to the rising use of devices like
cell phones and pagers which can keep people in touch even when
on the go. This also allows people to set or change plans quickly
as well as operate illicit businesses like drug sales. Convertibility
refers to the ability to transfer information from one medium to
another (as when a computer sends faxes) as well as translating
one language instantaneously to another. Connectivity refers to
the ability of computers, despite different makers, to communicate
with each other. Ubiquity refers to the "systemic spread of the
new media around the world and down through every economic layer
of society" (Toffler 1990:355). And finally, this new infrastructure
is global in scope, reaching across national borders. These properties
of the new media make it cooptable for the purpose of subversion
and resistance. Thus, Toffler employs a more expansive vision of
the media (not just broadcast news) and sees the media utilized
as a tool of protest not because it is non-institutional but rather
because of the growing power, pervasiveness, and importance of the
media in the modern age.
Next, we need to discuss the role of public opinion.
There are two kinds of social order: socially necessary order and
surplus order. Socially necessary order is that which is needed
to maintain the veneer of civilization while surplus order "is that
excess order imposed not for the benefit of the society, but exclusively
for the benefit of those who control the state" (Toffler 1990:462-63).
Toffler suggests that "global opinion is growing more and more articulate,
and less tolerant of surplus order" (1990:463). Those states that
impose high levels of surplus order not only run the risk of losing
their legitimacy but also of stifling economic progress.
The revolutionary new element - a change brought
about by the novel system of wealth creation – is a change in
the level of socially necessary order. As nations make the transition
toward the advanced, super-symbolic economy, they need more
horizontal self-regulation and less top-down control. Put more
simply, totalitarian control chokes economic advance (Toffler
So, the importance of public opinion lies not in its
ability to circumvent institutional channels but because socially
necessary order must be regulated in order to insure economic and
social progress and this is a consequence of the shift to the information
In terms of decentralization, the State Intrusion
hypothesis argues that this is a reaction to the undemocratic structure
of modern life and is a reflection of the ideological underpinnings
of NSMs (Pichardo 1997). Toffler’s thesis suggests that decentralization
is one of the hallmarks of the Third Wave brought about by the reorganization
of social and production organizations. Thus, Toffler sees decentralization
to be a product not of the counter-hegemonic ideological underpinnings
of modern life but rather the decentralization of all aspects of
modern life brought about by the introduction of new technologies.
A final point of discussion. Mouffe (1984) specifically
states that the future will be characterized by increasing levels
of bureaucracy and cultural massification. This is in direct contrast
with Toffler’s vision. Toffler believes that the future will see
the death of bureaucracy and the proliferation of new identities.
So, while both the State Intrusion and Future Shock
theses acknowledge similar processes like identity issues, the importance
of public opinion, and the role of the media, they offer contrasting
reasons for why these are so. In a future article, I hope to apply
the Future Shock model to a specific case study to see how well
it holds up. Regardless of its specific merits, the Future Shock
thesis offers a new way to think about SMs in the future.
1. There are actually
several variations of the so-called NSM theory. See Buechler 1995,
Pichardo 1997 for a review of these.
2. The info-sphere
is Toffler’s term for the sphere of society that deals with the
production and distribution of information. This sphere changes
as the techno-sphere changes.
3. The classification
of a movement as either identity-based or not is not clear-cut.
Many movements have identity components (see Pichardo Almanzar,
Sullivan-Catlin and Deane 1998) but it is still the case that some
movements are more centered on identity issues than others.
4. This is supported
by the work of Naomi Klein (1999) where she argues that "the prospect
of having to change a few pronouns and getting a handful of women
and minorities on the board and on the television posed no real
threat to the guiding profit-making principle of Wall Street" (p.