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
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 of NSMs.
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 1970:326).
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
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
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"
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
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" (1980:234).
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 (Toffler 1980:234).
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 changing society
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 explain the
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 religious movements.
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 government.
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 marginalize SMs.
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 1990:463).
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 age.
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
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"