Jeremy Rifkin’s Economic and Social Theories
In 1995, Jeremy Rifkin published the international best seller The End of Work, in which he made the argument that “more sophisticated software technologies are going to bring civilization ever closer to a near workerless world.” The book was controversial at the time. 16 years later, in 2011, The Economist published a lead story revisiting Mr. Rifkin’s thesis in The End of Work. The editors asked “what happens…when machines are smart enough to become workers?” In an editorial, The Economist noted that
“This is what Jeremy Rifkin, a social critic, was driving at in his book The End of Work, published in 1995…Mr. Rifkin argued prophetically that society was entering a new phase—one in which fewer and fewer workers would be needed to produce all the goods and services consumed… the process has clearly begun.”
In the current global debate over technology displacement, automation, and the decline of employment, Rifkin is credited with being the first to raise the issue and lay the intellectual groundwork for both understanding the nature of the phenomenon and its far reaching implications for society.
The End of Work has been translated into 19 languages.
In 2000, Jeremy Rifkin published the international best seller The Age of Access, a groundbreaking work that suggested that the global economy is in the early stages of a fundamental transformation in the organization of economic life. He argued that markets are being challenged by networks, buyers and sellers are giving way to providers and users, and access to goods is beginning to supersede ownership of property, laying the basis for a collaborative economy. Mr. Rifkin wrote
“The very thought of leaving markets and property behind—of advancing a conceptual change in the structuring of human relationships away from ownership and toward access—is as inconceivable to many people today as enclosure and privatization of land and labor into property relationship must have been more than half a millennium ago. [However], it is likely that for a growing number of enterprises and consumers, the very idea of ownership will seem limited, even old fashioned, 25 years from now.”
In the ensuing decade, the Collaborative Commons took flight, as millions of consumers became prosumers and began accessing and sharing information, knowledge, entertainment, renewable energy, 3D printed products, cars, homes, clothes, and other items on a vast global commons, ushering in a new economic paradigm. Rifkin’s prescient vision of an economy transitioning from ownership to access is often cited by the leading voices in the shareable economy as providing the intellectual foundation for the new economic model that’s transforming the way a younger generation engages in economic life.
The Age of Access has been translated into 14 languages.
In 2011, Jeremy Rifkin published the New York Times best seller The Third Industrial Revolution, which captured the attention of the world. Mr. Rifkin is a principle architect of the European Union’s Third Industrial Revolution long-term economic development plan. The Third Industrial Revolution has also been endorsed by the United Nations and embraced by world leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President François Hollande of France, and Premier Li Keqiang of China.
In December of 2013, subsequent to an official visit by Mr. Rifkin with Chinese leaders, China announced an $82 billion initial commitment to erect a green Energy Internet as the centerpiece of its long-term economic vision of becoming the world’s leading Third Industrial Revolution economy and post-carbon society. The Third Industrial Revolution was the best-selling economics book in China in 2012 and 2013, with 400,000 copies in print.
Rifkin is the President of the TIR Consulting Group LLC which advises national governments, regions, and municipalities on developing Third Industrial Revolution Master Plans to transition their economies into a post-carbon society. The TIR Consulting Group LLC is composed of many of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, construction companies, architectural firms, real estate companies, IT companies, power and utility companies, and transport and logistics companies.
The Third Industrial Revolution has been translated into 19 languages.