Book Review: The Age of Unreason – by Charles Handy

The Age of Unreason – by Charles Handy

Everyone gets something different out of a book. The opinions here are mine only.

“…there always comes a moment in time when a door opens and lets the future in…”     –  Graham Greene

This book was published in 1991. I read it at the end of 2010, almost 20 years later. The fact that I found the book so relevant almost 20 years after it was written is testimony to the author’s powerful insight into the changes taking place in the workplace and in our way of life.

Charles Handy speaks of demographic, technological, social structure and value changes affecting society in a discontinuous way. Formal organizations, he says, will be less important and more people will be outside these organizations. There will be more freedom and choice regarding how people work and live; and more people will have a “portfolio of jobs” instead of a job title. On the flipside, more choices and greater emphasis on individual achievement could mean the stronger are better off and the weak worse off, unless there is, ingrained in society, a strong ethic of support and encouragement.

Let us take stock, for a moment, of what we are seeing in the world today. With baby boomers closer to retirement age, the pyramid structure of organizations is under increasing strain. Technological changes, while applauded for increasing productivity and improving our lives, mean that different jobs have to be created in order to keep people at work (otherwise unemployment goes up and we are seeing this too). Ethics go out of the window when the rich don’t care (look at high profile Ponzi schemes, banking scandals and the like), adversely affecting millions of ordinary people. Yet, the work of philanthropists (like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and others) helps lift some out of poverty. This all fits in very well with what Handy puts forth in “The Age of Unreason”.

For those wanting to fathom the changes that we are seeing and are to come in the world and figure out how to be prepared rather than be shocked, “The Age of Unreason” provides an excellent pair of lenses from which to put it all into perspective.

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  • By Away from the Madding Crowds « tinkerthinktank on October 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    […] – when formal organisations decrease in importance, as predicted by Charles Handy in his book The Age of Unreason, or when home schooling or other alternatives to formal school as we know it today gain in […]

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