Major Social Trends William G. Huitt, Ph.D. Valdosta State University Last revised: August 2000
Our schools are not making corresponding modifications (e.g., Robinson, 1992) Robinson, M. (1992). Mastery learning in public schools: Some areas of restructuring. Education, 113(1), 121-126. Major Social Trends Powerful economic and social forces are pushing and prodding us to change if we want to be successful in the 21st century. We made our past; we have made our present. If we want to have some control in our lives 10 or 15 years from now, we need to make some changes today.
There is a new paradigm for success (Baker, 1992). Baker, J. (1992). Paradigm: The business of discovering the future. New York: HarperBusiness. Major Social Trends A paradigm is "a set of rules and regulations (either written or unwritten) that does two things: 1) it establishes or defines boundaries and, 2) it tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful."
Major Social Trends The new paradigm is founded on a few social trends that are impacting every aspect of our lives. Most of these trends are related to the movement to the information age from the agriculture and industrial ages of the 18th and 19th centuries
Toffler (1990) believes the individual, group, community, society, or nation that has access to information and the ability to process it will be most successful in the information age. Toffler, A. (1990). Powershift. New York: Bantam Books. Movement to the Information Age There is a major power struggle between the 2nd wave (industrial) and 3rd wave (information) for influence on social and economic change.
In the 1930's some 30 million people were involved in farming. They grew enough food to feed about 150 million people (Pilzer, 1990). Pilzer, P. (1990). Unlimited wealth. New York: Crown Publishing Group. Movement to the Information Age Today only about 3 million people are involved in farming (a number declining every year). This much smaller number of farmers grow enough food to feed a population of 250 million in the U.S. and export enough to feed another 100 million.
Movement to the Information Age In 1990, the U.S. economy produced about 3 times the amount of goods produced just after World War II with about the same number of workers(Pilzer, 1990). Only about 10% of the workforce is now involved in manufacturing. Pilzer, P. (1990). Unlimited wealth. New York: Crown Publishing Group.
Technology & The Speed of Change Internet and World Wide Web--from less than a million users in the early 1990s to 30m in 1998 to more than 330m in 2000 to 2b in 2010; 30% of retailing on the net in industrial countries by 2010 Need for constant innovation--complacency is the enemy of survival; good enough is not High tech / High touch--technology speeds up processing, but people want to associate with people
Global Economy Movement from local to regional to national to multinational to global Capitalism won • Institutional-help to self-help • Entrepreneurship
Workforce Changes Needs are different (importance of different sectors)--increased importance of information and technology workers Distribution--accounts for 70% to 90% of cost Transformation of work--from low-skilled, interchangeable to highly-skilled, critical Dejobbing--more temporary full-time and permanent part-time Shrinking workforce--fewer workers needed
Other Decentralization--decision-making at point of implementation Multiple options--from “either/or” to “and” Customized economy--just-in-time, on-demand, personalized Change is dynamic, not linear--small actions can bring about large results; importance of minorities Re-emergence of importance of family--more work, education, and entertainment at home
Conclusion Look at the needs of the times in which you live and make a contribution. Looking only at the past for ideas about what to do now is like driving a speeding car down the highway while looking in the rearview mirror. We must look ahead and take into account a changing environmental context.