Reviews

One of the articles in Creating A Future We Can Live With (IC#40)
Originally published in Spring 1995 on page 58
Copyright (c)1995, 1997 by Context Institute

THE END OF WORK: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era
Jeremy Rifkin

A Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam Original, NY, 1995, 336 pp., index, $24.59 (hardback)

This is the book I have been waiting for someone to write. It asks the unthinkable question: what if all of the jobs that have disappeared recently are really gone? Not gone temporarily, due to the recession. Not geographically, due to cheaper labor costs overseas. Not structurally, due to the displacement of manufacturing by services. But gone in the way that agricultural jobs are gone forever.

In his chapter "The Price of Progress," Rifkin paints a bleak picture of the consequences of such a shift if we continue "business as usual."

In his final section, "The Dawn of the Post-Market Era," he offers a more hopeful view and calls for a new social contract to address the realities of the future of work, including:

  • Widespread adoption of a 30-hour work week,
  • Expansion of the "third sector," or the independent, volunteer sector as a source of both "jobs" (meaningful work) and solutions to social problems that are beyond the effective purview of the traditional public and private sectors, and
  • Development of "shadow wages" (tax deductions) and "social wages" (an alternative to welfare payments) for community service work.

– Jill Bamburg


ECOTONE: Wayfaring on the Margins
Florence R. Krall

State University of NY Press, 1994, 262 pp., $16.95 (paper)

Ecotone is "the boundary between two natural communities where elements of both as well as transitional species intermingle in heightened richness." In these areas, plants and animals become highly adaptive to the shifting environment and thrive.

In Ecotone, Florence Krall takes this idea a step further into her human experience of that edge. While times of intense change and friction in personal and social life can become boundaries of separation, they can also "be rich and dynamic transitional zones and may provide great learning as well as suffering."

I was delighted by the wonderful descriptions of places as different as the Alaskan Arctic and the Navajo desert lands and moved by the depth of her honesty throughout. This is a book I plan to revisit and savor.

– Jane Engel


THE CORPORATE TRANSFORMATION OF HEALTH CARE, Part 2: Perspectives & Implications
edited by J. Warren Salmon

Baywood Publishing Co. Amityville, NY, 1994, 258 pp., $34 for parts 1&2 (hardback)

A thorough, scholarly anthology reviewing the state of the US health care system and the growing corporate takeover of what had previously been a primarily locally controlled service. The book is part of a series edited by Vicente Navarro, and includes essays by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler (see IC #39), and Robb Burlage who coined the term, "the medical-industrial complex."

– Sarah van Gelder


URBAN SANCTUARIES: Neighborhood Organizations in the Lives and Futures of Inner-City Youth
Milbrey McLaughlin, Merita Irby, Juliet Langman

Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1994, 246 pp., index, $23 (hardback)

This book is for anyone who wants to learn what makes an effective youth organization. Urban Sanctuaries examines how environments that nurture and engage young people are imagined, created, and sustained.

Six young "hopefuls" describe their neighborhood life experiences and the sense of hope and determination found through neighborhood organizations. The book follows youth organization leaders from within and outside the neighborhoods and details their methods of success. There are useful how-to chapters on Building the Program Family, Volunteers, and Finding Resources.

– Kathryn True


LIGHTING A CANDLE: Quotations on the Spiritual Life
edited by Molly Y. Brown

A Hazelden Book, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1994, 112 pp., $12 (hardback)

Quotes that are both inspiring and profound from some of my favorite writers and thinkers: Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, Matthew Fox, Vaclav Havel, Joanna Macy, Thich Nhat Hanh, Elizabet Sahtouris, David Spangler, Malidoma Somé, Rabindranath Tagore and others.

Lighting a Candle contains four sections: Awakening; Trials and Tribulations; Love, Grace and Interbeing; and Action and Service, each combining timeless wisdom with an acute awareness of the challenges we face in these transformative times.

– Sarah van Gelder

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