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Things: the Throw-away Society

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1 Things: the Throw-away Society
Alvin Toffler by Janet, Sedonna,Doll, and Diana Luo Background Detailed study of the text Organization and Development


3 The Author: Alvin Toffler (Oct.3, 1928- )
An American writer, teacher and futurist, known for his work discussing the digital revolution, communications revolution, and corporate revolution. His early work focused on technology and its impact. Then he moved to examining the reaction of and changes in society. His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation and capitalism.

4 The Author: his ideas “Society needs people who take care of the elderly and who know how to be compassionate and honest. Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skill that are not just cognitive; they’re emotional, they’re affectional. You can’t run the society on data and computers alone.”

5 Alvin Toffler (Oct.3, ) For more than four decades, Alvin Toffler has been one of the world’s most prescient(预见性), insightful and influential voices in business and intellectual life. With the publication of his seminal work, Future Shock, Toffler created an all-new discipline (futurism) around the study of change and its impact on business and culture.

Alvin Toffler has an unusual gift for defining the forces and trends that shape our future in ways that help a broad range of audiences, from companies to governments, shape their future in today’s knowledge-based economy. He understands politics, economics, and changes in technology,society and the arts as few others do.

7 Future shock means the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time. Alvin’s subsequent book,the Third Wave(1980) is another significant book. The Shockwave Rider (1995) is a science-fiction novel inspired by his Future Shock.

8 The Third Wave The first wave society— after agrarian revolution and replaced the first hunter-gathers cultures, the age of agriculture began. The second wave society— nuclear family, factory-type education system and the corporation. Alvin writes“The second wave society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction…” The third wave society— the post industrial society(information age)

9 During the 1980s, Alvin was read and listened to across the world as people tried to make sense of the impact of new technologies and social change.


11 Detailed Study and Discussion Paras.1-3:
Question: What’s the function of the example of Barbie doll? Is it isolated from the rest of the text? The example of the Barbie doll is given to introduce and illustrate his thesis: man’s relationships with things are increasingly temporary. The thesis is repeatedly illustrated and supported by more examples in the rest of the text.

12 Paras.4-5 Language points: ocean of man-made physical objects
technologically produced environment the texture of plastic or concrete the staggering vision of a cityscape the intimate realities of his existence

13 Paras.4-5 Language points:
Man-made things enter into and color his consciousness Their number is expanding …both absolutely and relative to the natural environment.

14 Paras.4-5 Questions: How would you interpret the sentence “Things affect our sense of continuity or discontinuity. They play a role in the structure of situations and the foreshortening of our relationships with things accelerates the pace of life.”? Could you figure out the main idea of this part?

15 What are the two functions of “things”
What are the two functions of “things”? Which does the author attach more importance to? Main idea of paras 4-5: the psychological impact of the increasing number of man-made things on man.

16 Para.6: devoted to the difference between two generations in their value judgments, which is shown by means of comparison and contrast. Question: What is the difference between two generations in their value judgments?

17 Para.7 It is devoted to the throw-away culture in which the younger generation are deeply involved, which is shown with a long list of throw-away objects for daily use — a further illustration of the “throw-away situation and increasing temporary man-thing relationship” mentioned in previous paragraphs.

18 Paras.8 and 9: devoted to examples of other industrialized countries, in which the throw-away culture has been fostered gradually since the late 50’s. U. S. and Sweden are contrasted to show how the latter was transformed into a throw-away society in the late 50’s, which suggests an increasing tendency for the whole society to become dominated by throw-away culture.

19 Questions for para.8 What is the topic sentence of para. 8? Is it adequately developed and supported by the evidence that follows in this paragraph?

20 Paras.10-12: devoted to the examples of the introduction of paper clothes products —a further step towards disposability(to use products once or for short term and throw away) to show people’s psychological need for throw-away things and the trend to maintain a transient relationships between man and man-made objects.

21 Questions for paras 10-12: What does “fashionable boutiques and working-class clothing stores”(in para. 10) suggest? What, according to Alvin, has given rise to the popularity of paper products in the market?


23 Different generations
Exemplifications of Barbie dolls Throw away products Different attitudes towards dolls of Different generations a long list of throw-away objects for daily use decreased Durations in man-thing relationships A throw Away society the resistance of the French housewife towards disposal products Factors contributing to the throw-away mentality the rapid shift to a throw-away society in Sweden, Japan, England, and France a set of radically altered values with respect to property the popularity of paper clothes



26 Discussion: Would you characterize Toffler’s essay as subjective and interpretive or objective and factual? Why do you think so? In what ways does the author organize and development the text? What’s your key learning point from the text? Do you agree or disagree with the author? State your reasons. Summarize in one sentence the main idea of the text.

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