February 23rd 2019


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Something rotten led to fish-kill: perhaps fishy environmentalism

EDITORIAL Resistance grows to Beijing's soft-power push

CANBERRA OBSERVED Climate change: deadly ... to political leaders

TECHNOLOGY Electric cars: UK taxpayers subsidise rich greenies

BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION A step too small?

CYBER SECURITY Chinese smartphone threat extends way beyond Huawei

SOCIETY Such grandeur of spirit

POLITICS John Hewson should have as sturdy a Constitution

FINANCE Hayne royal commission sets agenda for bank reform

FAMILY RELATIONS Dad: a girl's first and most influential love

COMMENTARY Words gone feral: rights and equality

MEDICINE AND CULTURE Book captures tragedy of falling foul of a fanatic

SOCIETY AND CULTURE A dog's life: reflections of a grey nomad

HUMOUR

MUSIC Serialism a killer: Ideas tend to get in the way

CINEMA Cold Pursuit: Revenge served up manic

BOOK REVIEW Why the West and nowhere else

BOOK REVIEW The escalation of horror and atrocity

LETTERS

Books promotion page

THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION:
History for a Techno-Human Future

Judith Bessant

$242


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About the book

While artificial intelligence (AI), robots, biotechnologies and digital media are transforming work, culture, and social life, there is little understanding of or agreement about the scope and significance of this change. This new interpretation of the 'great transformation' uses history and evolutionary theory to highlight the momentous shift in human consciousness taking place. Only by learning from recent crises and rejecting technological determinism will governments and communities redesign social arrangements that ensure we all benefit from the new and emerging technologies.

The book documents the transformations under way in financial markets, entertainment, and medicine, affecting all aspects of work and social life. It draws on historical sociology and co-evolutionary theory arguing that the radical evolution of human consciousness and social life now under way is comparable with, if not greater than, the agrarian revolution (10,000 BCE), the explosion of science, philosophy, and religion in the Axial Age (600 BCE), and the recent Industrial Revolution. Turning to recent major socio-economic crisis, and asking what can be learnt from them, the answer is we cannot afford this time around to repeat the failures of elites and theoretical systems such as economics to attend appropriately to radical change. We need to think beyond the constraints of determinist and reductionist explanations and embrace the idea of deep freedom.

This book will appeal to educators, social scientists, policy-makers, business leaders, and students. It concludes with social design principles that can inform deliberative processes and new social arrangements that ensure everyone benefits from the affordances of the new and emerging technologies.

About the author

Judith Bessant is a Professor at RMIT University, Melbourne, and Adjunct Professor at the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. She is widely published and her research interests include policy, sociology, politics, youth studies, media-technology studies, and history. She has also worked as an advisor for governments and non-government organisations. In 2017 she was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for her “significant service to education as a social scientist, advocate and academic specializing in youth studies research”.


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