The Age of Access: How the Shift from Ownership to Access is Transforming Modern Life (Penguin Business Library)

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9780140295474: The Age of Access: How the Shift from Ownership to Access is Transforming Modern Life (Penguin Business Library)

Imagine waking up one day to find that virtually everything you do has become a "paid for" experience. It is part of a fundamental change taking place in the nature of business, contends Jeremy Ritkin. After several hundred years as the organising principles of civilisation, the traditional market systems is beginning to break down. On the horizon looms the "age of access", where we trade experiences instead of objects. In the hypercapitalist economy - characterised by continuous innovation and dizzying speed of change -buying thongs in markets an downing property becomes an outdated idea, while "just in time" access to virtually every kind of service, through vast commercial networks operating in cyberspace, becomes the norm. We increasingly pay for the experience of using things -in the form of subscriptions, memberships and leases -rather than pay for the things themselves. The bottom line: we are spending more and owning less. Similarly, companies are selling off property, leasing equipment, outsourcing activities and becoming "weightless". Ownership of physical property, once considered a valued asset, is now regarded as a liability in the corporate world. "Lifestyle marketing" is th buzz in the commercial world as more and more consumers become members of corporate sponsored clubs and participate in corporate sponsored activities and events. The business of business, therefore, is no longer about exchanging property but, rather, buying access to one's daily existence in small commercial time-segments. In this book the author asks, will any time be left for relationships of a non-commercial nature? The changes taking place are part of an even larger transformation in the nature of capitalism. we are making a long-term shift from a system based on manufacturing goods to one based on the selling of cultural experiences. Global travel and tourism, fashion, food, sport, gambling, the virtual worlds of cyberspace and even social causes, are fast becoming the centre of an experimental economy that trades in cultural resources.

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Review:

He's been called the postmodern Chicken Licken, but it so happens that the sky really is falling down. Jeremy Rifkin pulls the plug on the trend away from property ownership and free public life in The Age of Access. As usual, he's a bit ahead of the curve--most of us aren't yet fully immersed in the sea of leased products and packaged experiences that he sees awaiting us. Still, his eerie visions of a world of gatekeepers paying each other for access to nearly every aspect of human life brings a chilling new meaning to the phrase "pay to play" and should spark some debate over our new cultural revolution. Using examples from business and government experiments with just-in-time access to goods and services and resource sharing, Rifkin defines a new society of renters too busy breaking the shackles of material possessions to mourn the passing of public property. Are we encouraging alienation or participation? Can we trust corporations with stewardship of our social lives? True to form, the author asks more questions than he answers--a sign of an open mind. If property is theft, leased access is extortion, and The Age of Access warns us of the complex changes coming in our relationships with our homes, our communities, and our world. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

An internationally renowned social critic, Jeremy Rifkin is the best-selling author of The End of Work and The Biotech Century, both of which have been translated into fifteen languages. Rifkin is a fellow at the Wharton School Executive Education Program, where he lectures on new trends in science and technology and their impacts on the global economy, society and the environment for CEOs around the world. He is president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington D.C.

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