Read The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification by Paul Roberts Online

the-impulse-society-america-in-the-age-of-instant-gratification

Five years after the Great Recession, we must confront an unhappy truth: a high-tech, high-speed, consumer economy engineered to provide maximum power to individuals is destroying our capacity to move forward as a society. Even as rapidly advancing personal technologies let consumers gratify an ever-broader array of desires, a similar pattern of instant gratification in thFive years after the Great Recession, we must confront an unhappy truth: a high-tech, high-speed, consumer economy engineered to provide maximum power to individuals is destroying our capacity to move forward as a society. Even as rapidly advancing personal technologies let consumers gratify an ever-broader array of desires, a similar pattern of instant gratification in the worlds of business and politics is splitting our economy and undermining our most important social institutions—family, community, collective action. The result is a massive and ongoing fragmentation. Corporate executives now maximize returns without regard for social consequences. Political leaders score quick points while destroying common ground. Consumers cover their growing economic insecurity by retreating into personalized world that render collective social action all but impossible.The consequences: financial volatility, health epidemics, environmental degradation, and political paralysis, to say nothing of a deep and growing dissatisfaction. All reflect a society whose pursuit of self-interest grows more intense and less enlightened every year.More than thirty years ago, Christopher Lasch published his landmark book, The Culture of Narcissism. Since then, the conditions he described have only gotten worse. And while Lasch’s analysis was largely cultural, the real story has always been an economic one. Paul Roberts digs down to the economic roots of the problem, showing how it has metastasized over the last three decades. In clear, cogent prose that mixes vibrant reporting and illuminating analysis, Roberts tells the fascinating story of how the impulse society came to be—and shows how, perhaps, a healthier society may still be possible....

Title : The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781608198146
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification Reviews

  • Zawani
    2019-03-20 14:54

    Menceritakan bagaimana masyarakat hari ini jauh tercampak dalam dunia yang dicipta sendiri akibat perkembangan media sosial. Masyarakat hari ini menurut penulis tidak lagi mempunyai empati sebaliknya menuju masyarakat yang mementingkan diri sendiri dan obses terhadap diri sendiri.

  • 'Izzat Radzi
    2019-02-25 15:15

    Buku ini mengenai sifat ke'aku'an (narcissism) dalam sosiobudaya Amerika. Dibicarakan tentang kemahuan sementara (short-term gain) sama dalam individu dalam konsumerisma; institusi kewangan dalam merangka kewangan atau pekerja yang hanya mahu mengaut untung atau tidak berani merobah sistem & sistem politik bi-partisan yang hanya mencari laba yang sementara, yang sememangnya biasa dalam politik opportunis.Updated with computer :Hanya setelah selepas pertengahan buku, baru nampak ke mana arah penulisan penulis. Disebabkan diktomi politik Amerika yang terbahagi kepada dua sangat signifikan; penulis membicarakan masyarakat yang tidak mahu berhadapan (engage) dengan yang lain (the other), kerana ke'aku'an yang tinggi dan tidak mempedulikan yang lain.Hal ini, menurut penulis, jelas dalam perkara lain juga; yang saya ingat adalah corak migrasi dan polisi kesihatan. Dalam corak migrasi, diberi contoh Portland, yang hidup 'vibrant' dengan pelbagai ideologi berbeza (in liberal sense). Hal ini sebelumnya berbeza, kerana penduduk pindah ke situ kerana kebimbangan penerimaan masyarakat terhadap pandangannnya seperti kahwin sejenis (gay marriages), kitar semula sisa pembuangan dsb yang sedikit sebanyak berkisar selari dengan manisfesto dan SOP Republikan-Demokrat di Amerika. Maka, mereka ingin lebih selesa duduk dalam masyarakat yang berfikiran sama (comformity) berbanding untuk lebih berhadapan dengan masyarakat yang mempunyai idea berbeza atau bertentangan. Hal yang sama dalam masalah polisi kesihatan, yang turut sama dibelenggu dengan kitaran ganas kapitalisma, apabila contohnya dibawa masuk teknologi MRI dan CT scan ke hospital, pakar-pakar kesihatan terpaksa menggunakannya walaupun tidak perlu untuk mengabsahkan pembiayaan yang telah dibuat, tidak termasuk lagi rawatan-rawatan yang tidak perlu keatas pesakit yang hanya dijalankan untuk menaikkan keuntungan. Salah satu solusi penulis adalah dengan percambahan semangat kekitaan (egalitarianism) dalam masyarakat. Mulanya saya kurang sedar mengapa penulis sangat menyanjung idea radikal kiri dalam demonstrasi dan protes, akhirnya baru beliau berhujah bahawa dengan adanya golongan ini, mereka memberi impak sebagai 'check and balance' terhadap polisi-polisi yang dijalankan parti pemerintah, kerana selepas ke'mandom'an gerakan kiri di Amerika, polisi yang dijalankan banyak berkompromi dengan pasaran yang tidak mengambil kira kepentingan awam dan hanya mementingkan kantung syarikat-syarikat besar.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-13 10:59

    Paul Roberts's book is not so much about the problem with getting what we want, but the destructiveness of focusing all our energy--both individually and as a society--on focusing all our efforts on getting what we want immediately, to the exclusion of the general good. His argument is a compelling one, particularly when he talks about the way business culture and politics have absorbed the habits and patterns of the Impulse Society. The destructiveness, as he points out, can only go on for so long before a total collapse ensues. While I would have liked more concrete examples, particularly in the final chapter when he addresses what needs doing to change the momentum of our society, it's a thoughtful and important book.

  • Neil Fox
    2019-03-20 18:17

    Some years ago, TIME Magazine declared its Person Of The Year to be YOU. A mirror laminated to its most eagerly-awaited front cover of the year reflected back the image of the individual reader and proclaimed he or she to be the most significant person on the planet that year. One wit famously secured a job after listing under personal achievements on his CV that he had been named TIME's Person Of The Year. TIME's intention, as it laboriously explained in its editorial, was to celebrate the empowerment of the individual and laude our unimpeachable march towards fulfilling our own individual potentials, unimpeded by anything or anyone, and enabled by the liberating power of technology. What it instead celebrated was narcissism run amok in the age of Facebook (or Faeces book as I prefer to call it) and social media, a twisted realization of the doctrine of Ayn Rand.Paul Roberts labels this narcissism, and the related self-absorption, self-centeredness and self-indulgence as the "Impulse Society", and explores in his book of this title how our society has become hyper-impulsive, with individuals demanding instant self-gratification regardless of the consequences and impact. In a nutshell, we are all about "consume now, pay later". Unsustainable resource consumption and depletion are are obvious consequences of this, but Roberts delves into several others, one of which he hypothesizes was the 2008 Financial crisis, a central cause of which was the explosion of credit to fuel rabid overconsumption. But other consequences are many, including psychological consequences to the individual such as anxiety, withdrawal and alienation from community.The Impusle Society is also linked to the wider economy and business World, as the behavior of organizations takes on similar characteristics. Companies become detached from their employees in the same way as individuals become detached from community. Investment into innovation is directed towards incremental product"upgrades" to generate short-term returns instead of long-term basic research; money previously spent on skills training & development is channeled into data-mining IT, automation, outsourcing programs and robotics; profits are "invested" into share buybacks instead of R&D, and a jobless recovery ensues as corporate profits soar.Roberts also explores how The Impulse Society manifests itself in the political system where short-sighted Partisanship creates a disfunctional toxic blend of Politics producing dire consequences for public infrastructure, healthcare and education. Roberts, whose 2 earlier books, The End Of Oil and The End Of Food, were splendid revelations of impending disasters from unfettered and unsustainable consumption, is a skilled undercover economist who here adds elements of neuropsychology and sociology into the mix; regardless of whether you view him as a left-wing doomsayer or sage to be heeded, his argumentation is empassioned and well argued. Roberts' concludes with a carefully thought out, but ultimately unconvincing, set of remedies to temper the worst excesses of the Impulse Society.One branch the author could have explored but chose not to in this book, is the degree to which technology has played a central role in the creation of the Impulse Society. We are all slaves now to our World of interconnected smartphones and other mobile devices and various screens, with the consequent loss of individual creativity, concentration and communication skills. Most people under 30 years old today couldn't sustain a 2-hour dinner party conversation without referencing Google on the subjects being discussed; for most of the same people experiences like travel or attending a rock concert are not about absorbing the experience of being there, but about letting all your "friends" know instantly that you are there. Devices and gagets are not a means to an end, they are the end itself; a friend marvels and demonstrates at how you can download & watch the latest movies in high definition on his iPhone 7, but he will never ever have the concentration span to actually watch one of those movies. What liberates us enslaves us; perhaps that cover of TIME reflecting back the all-empowered self should have had bars drawn across the surface of the mirror.

  • Dave B.
    2019-03-14 16:54

    This was a great intellectual read that forewarns the reader of the perils found in entertainment based technology along the lines of books such as: “Amusing ourselves to death” by Postman and “The Assault on Reason” by Gore and “The Age of American Unreason” by Jacoby. There are books throughout the recent decades that’ run through the wilderness’ like John the Baptist decrying out society’s fall into mindless decadency driven primarily by the advancement in entertainment based technology. I agree with several points in this book. Below is a list of summarized points: 1.Increased dependency on computers for social interaction detracts from our ability to limit selfish motivators and support larger social goals. We move away from the social norms that are required for a strong developing society toward stagnate, anti-social, society because we don’t need to work together for survival and security. 2.Our focus on immediate gratification eliminates our ability to pursue long-term improvements and significant technological advances. We begin to settle for simple cosmetic improvements over truly innovative changes that impact serious issues like fuel alternatives or declining educational systems.3.Finally, the very motives that created a highly competitive economic driven market set the course for a product centered management that consistently eliminate worker rights. These are problems present in every society and require pragmatic intellectuals/politicians that have the drive needed to redirect our citizens toward social reforms. Overall the book was very informative and provides some interesting solutions to the problems it presents. There are times where the author shows a little political bias explaining the emotionally focused conservative right over the very pragmatic liberal left. Outside of this slight slant, the book shows a fair critical thinking process and very enjoyable format.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2019-03-05 18:19

    When Paul Roberts (an NPR wonk) makes the same points (although more muted) as apocalyptic firebrand Chris Hedges you know things are not going well. We as a society have merged the consumer market and our selves to the point where we are an impulse society. We choose our communities for lifestyle options as if on a menu, We "personalize" our news, and politics like clothing designs and have given up character for personal expresssion. Our politics are no longer political aspirations but now lifestyle brands used among various other items to differentiate us as consumers. Our economy is run on short term optimization with no long term investment in innovation or workers who are logistically streamlined out of the workforce for next quarters earning statement. This is a recipe for overshot and collapse more apolypticly described by the likes of Hedges but lately being discussed in the mainstream. Bout time.

  • Sean Goh
    2019-03-14 12:09

    I remember myself feeling a general sense of anger reading this book, at how society has turned out, how companies get away with daylight robbery, and how we're only too happy to put up and shut up as long as we get our personalised, designed life. Mildly repetitive at times as he applies the impulse society lens to different arenas (health, politics, etc) but his point is abundantly made. This cannot continue.___A century ago, most economic activity occurred in our outer lives - in the physical world of production. Today the situation is almost reversed, with most economic activity centered on consumption.Some would argue that since the computer revolution of the 1970s, the consumer marketplace has effectively moved inside the self, and is now inseparable from not only our desires and decisions, but also our very identities.Much of what Apple and most other purveyors of personal technology, from Google to Microsoft to Facebook, are selling really is a kind of productivity: the ability to generate the highest level of momentary pleasure for the least effort.Sloan's creation of the yearly car model for GM offered his customers the power to move themselves not just physically but socially, a shrewd proposition in a time when Americans were becoming increasingly status conscious.Now anyone could upgrade to a higher level of emotional fulfillment - and do so more quickly and efficiently than had been possible under the old producer economy, when moments of intense satisfaction were less frequent and more likely to require some serious effort or discipline.With the age of consumer choice, the feedback loop between marketplace and consumer shifted into much higher gear. The nascent project of self-improvement and self-discovery was now industrialised and professionalised into full-scale social agenda.People who routinely use credit cards have no idea how much they've paid. - Dilip Soman, University of ChicagoIntertemporal choices (choices between now and later) are among the most frequent kinds of decision we make, and also among the most important, determining everything from personal health and finance to collective outcomes such as climate change. Alas, they are also our most fraught, time and again we get them wrong.The story of civilisation is arguably the story of societies getting better at persuading, coercing, or otherwise inducing individuals to repress their impulsiveness and myopia, or repress them sufficiently, to keep civilisation moving forward.It's tempting to view the social obligations of mom-and-pop stores as non-market inefficiencies. Yet Adam Smith himself insisted that markets would not yield their famous optimality without a strong moral dimension: absent trust and empathy between buyer and seller, markets quickly lose their efficiencies and fail - as numerous scandals, scams and bubbles have demonstrated.Robert Nisbet in The Quest for Community: By emancipating the individual from often-repressive traditional social structures, modern liberal society effectively severed and isolated him from "the subtle, infinitely complex lines of habit, tradition and social relationship" that make individual freedom possible in the first place. Humans are inherently social, and it is only when individual freedom is mediated through social structures like family and neighbourhood that such freedom becomes meaningful or sustainable.With the demolition of social norms through the privatisation of consumption (customer to consumer), we now had more power, but were increasingly alone with this power.Technologies developed in a healthy manufacturing sector tend to spill over into the rest of the economy and spur broader growth, while the financial sector tends to siphon off talent and resources from other sectors. Failure in the manufacturing sector leads to job loss. Failure in the financial sector can utterly destroy an economy.Thus it's no surprise that once an economy's financial sector exceeds a certain size, it may actually begin undercutting economic growth.The more we retreat into self-made experiences and lifestyles, the harder it becomes to engage in what is not familiar or personalised. And the brute fact is that some of the most important things in life, and certainly most of the biggest challenges we face as a society, are anything but personal or personalisable. Rather, they are generic, collective, and often unpleasant, requiring patience, a tolerance for the unfamiliar and a willingness to compromise and even sacrifice.We need the 'other' not only to challenge our own ideas and opinions, refresh our thinking and keep democracy vibrant, but also to know ourselves. It is only by acknowledging something truly larger than ourselves that we can really understand who we are and importantly, who we aren't.Ask a 20 year old how to get rich, says Campbell (Narcissism Epidemic), and you'll probably get 3 answers. "I can either be famous on reality TV, or I can go start a dot-com company and sell it to Google in about a week, or I can go work for Goldman Sachs and just steal money from old people."The real crisis in innovation under the Impulse Society: innovation was once a tool to improve the productivity of the entire economy - companies, and workers, labour and capital - it's more exclusive today. Increasingly, innovation improves the productivity of capital, via faster returns, while leaving labour's productivity largely unchanged, or even slowed. E.g. the innovation of off-shoring has lowered worker productivity, by increasing the distance between business units or using less skilled labour.With engineering, there's always an intense interaction between the people creating the product and the business owners it is being created for. And that works most easily when everyone is in the same building and they can meet every day and have informal conversations in the hallway.In Britain, patients diagnosed with certain well-advanced cancers are automatically referred to pallative care. "Though it may seem incredibly bleak, it's just reality. We can pretend we can cure you with additional drugs, but that's just a game of make believe that really is not rational." - Anthony Zietman, oncologist.Fox News Channel's simple two-part strategy: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (to keep them from changing the channel).It's also telling that CNN, the main channel striving for neutrality, has one of the lower viewership numbers.So focused was the left on self-expression and personal fulfillment that it largely neglected its historical function: keeping government from falling totally in the thrall of the marketplace and the blind march for efficiency."The worst families in American are those that actually function as families - they cook their own meals, take walks after dinner, and talk together instead of farming the kids out to commercial culture. These activities all involve less expenditure of money. Solid marriages involve less expenditure for counselling and divorce, thus they are threats to the economy as portrayed by GDP." - Jonathan Rowe, journalistBy making people more secure, by encouraging the idea that larger society has our interests and well-being at heart, we will be more willing to step out of ourselves and to devote more time to our families, our neighbours, our schools. As important, by making progress on inequality, by demonstrating that the economy is not solely for the wealthy and the politically connected, we begin to restore the faith that the rest of us once had had in the broader American experiment, and in democracy as a whole.

  • John Kaufmann
    2019-03-05 17:18

    This book has a valid premise - that increased personal power of modern society (beginning with cars, proceeding to household appliances and recreations, and accelerated with the advent of digital media) has contributed to, if not caused, an increase in self-centeredness and a deterioration of our public sphere. This is not a wholly new concept; Nisbet and others were writing about this as early as the 1950s and 1960s. However, it is good to see it refreshed, especially in light of the digital revolution and what has been happening in our public sphere over the past two decades. That said, I found the book rather repetitive. Once the basic idea is put forward, the rest of the book is spent showing how it affects different aspects of our lives, from education to health care to our politics. If one gets the concept (it's not super-difficult) and sees it applied once or twice, one should be able to apply it to other realms. Thus most of the book is redundant, variations on a theme. I found myself skimming by the middle of the book.

  • Liz Martin
    2019-03-14 13:17

    This book explores how our obsession with myopia, quick returns, and immediate gratification has corrupted our financial system, our politics, and our ability to work together as a community. Although I didn't agree 100% with some of his examples, I definitely feel like this book provided very valuable insight. I feel like I understand the climate of our country a lot better. I strongly recommend this.

  • Kyaw Yar
    2019-03-07 19:03

    The impulse society shows the reasons why the world changed from we to I in various sectors. Really Awesome.

  • Carmen
    2019-02-28 16:51

    Quite an inspiring read! We've all heard that people expect everything right away now. Technology has made this possible with instant messaging, overnight delivery, ability to watch a whole series of a tv show on the computer, etc. Roberts ties this to the idea that mankind is actually hard-wired this way. We were originally hunters-gatherers, which did not require planning and waiting like farming. So we are quickly falling back to this. The problem is that this tendency has allowed us as a nation to make some decisions which could be interpreted as short-sighted. He proves this theory with facts. "For middle class workers, the shift in fortunes was stark. In 1973 a 30 year old man in a middle-wage job was making 60 percent more than his father had 20 years before. By 1993 the man's son was making 25 percent less than the man was in 1973." Since I am in my 50's I have had this personal experience. He also compares the American response to globalization with other countries. Labor is losing here because the effects of globalization, offshore jobs without training for new jobs for American workers, is actually widening the gap between the very rich and the poor. The middle class is decreasing. As compared to European countries, who also offshore, but train the workers for new jobs. Our society is more interested in the immediate profits and does not consider the costs of thousands of workers unemployed and living on the edge. Really thought provoking.

  • Gladys Landing-Corretjer
    2019-03-19 12:02

    The impulse society: how we have become arrogant, ungrateful, and not able to make commitmentsI loved the book because it explains in simple terms the reasons we have become intolerant of differences, unable to make long term commitments, and be absolutely concerned with me, myself, and I by wanting everything now.As a teacher, I dealt with this situation in the classroom. Creating a community of learners was more difficult in the last 10 years than at the beginning of my career. Working with school board members, that we're more concerned about the money spent that about learning, was discouraging to say the least.The changes in our financial system, according to the author, have merged with such an impetus force into our lives, and challenged our sense of self and community.I would encourage everyone to read this book before casting another vote in a primary, caucus, or general election.

  • Ian
    2019-02-25 16:08

    Shallow and disappointing book that starts off with great gusto but ends up being another narrow left-liberal rant about how capitalism is destroying everything we as a society cherish. Surely some elements of his arugment are true, but the total lack of objectivity and heavy-handed political tone strip the book of all its argumentative merit.

  • Jillian
    2019-03-07 19:03

    Roberts doesn't pretend that post-WWII America was a complete utopia or that nothing has improved since, but he tracks rather stark and largely negative shifts between then and today; in very broad terms he sees a merging of the self and the marketplace with greater polarization of the population on multiple fronts, coupled with increasing emphasis on short-term gains rather than long-term development, on private rather than public goods, on personality rather than character, on benefits to stockholders rather than employees, on the financial markets and efficiency rather than true investment and productivity, and on political brand rather than effective compromise. The outcome is a more unstable, polarized, and inequitable society with seriously flawed economic, political, and healthcare systems. (Note too that this book was written in 2014, so in the chapter about how polarized politics has become, how we can't even agree on what constitutes a fact anymore, how it can be difficult for many to shift out of campaign mode into governing mode, how media is fragmenting audiences and shaping policy, etc. etc., I just wanted to warn 2014 Roberts that he had no idea how much crazier it was all going to become.) We need to, and we can, push back against the Impulse Society and its leading forces, he argues. His proposed counter-movement includes changes to national policies (making corporate buybacks illegal again, reforming campaign finance regulations, etc.) down to what we as individuals can do (rebuilding local community structures, reframing how we think about our needs and our purpose). None of these broad ideas are exactly surprising, and I was already familiar with them from a psychology/sociology/culture perspective, so I wasn't sure how much I would learn going in, but I actually came away with quite a bit. Roberts supports his points with specific and illuminating research, much of it rooted in economics, which is not my personal forte. (The caveat being that those who already have a strong background in economics, corporate history, and politics may not get as much out of the book and may have criticisms I wouldn't know enough at this point to make.) I found it all interesting and thought-provoking, at the very least, and good fodder for discussion. I hope to return to this review in a bit and add some of the statistics I found most compelling.

  • JTRyan
    2019-02-22 19:00

    Heavy and thorough on background, light and improbable on the solution given current events/elections.

  • Drew
    2019-03-11 14:54

    "Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent."This John Maynard Keynes quote is perhaps my favorite line from this incredibly persuasive book. Its central point: that a market and country driven purely by the wants of its millions of consumers will succeed in the long term only if those wants are tempered by support for long-term strategies. The "impulse" to consume and invest purely based on immediate gratification demonstrates the singular problem with the way we consume -- it changes the way resources are allocated in the market. For example, the profit-driven nature of current medical policy changes the way medical resources are allocated. In reality, the US healthcare system has too much medical technology in some ways; the ability-to-pay factor means there will be as much high-end treatment as the market wants. Unfortunately, the health of the nation would be much better served by widespread primary care and preventative treatment than another high-end noninvasive scanner.Technology's progress serves as one of the major causes of the change in consumption. The merging of the market and the self, Roberts argues, exacerbates one of our more deadly instinctive flaws: difficulty in making intertemporal choices. With the time from "want" to "get" shrinking continually, an inability to stop consuming (or simply regulate it) becomes ever more destructive.Roberts challenges the assumption that "the market" will naturally allocate resources in the optimal way. The fact that relatively free markets have sustained themselves for the most part until now has not only to do with the occasional corrective actions taken by governments but also the societal factors that put basic limits on consumption. I.e., before there was a WalMart in every town, Amazon access everywhere, and endless free credit ready for you, it was harder for the economy as a whole to overconsume. Roberts eventually reaches a frustrating question -- is it possible that we are simply encountering more opportunity than we can realistically be assessed?Impulse Society also asks several questions about the nature and function of our markets, and whether our indicators are even valid for our real goals. Is growth really the best way to measure economic health? (Perhaps the better question is whether or not infinite growth is even actually possible.) why does a firm's share price come from the supply of shares? isn't it supposed to reflect a valuation of the company? so when "buybacks" occur, isn't this just gaming the system? The idea that most industries have been financialized has many ideas in common with the thinking behind the gaming in Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. The markets themselves have been turned into risk-making endeavors, and that fact coupled with our current consumption patterns drives our future economic prospects south.A terrific read, short on data but long on well-reasoned questions -- the greatest of which asks whether Consumerica can continue this way.

  • Helle Gowan
    2019-02-27 13:08

    Reading Paul Roberts’ book, Impulse Society, I am reminded that even the most environmentally minded of us are consumers. Roberts ties several aspects of our consumerism together nicely: our desire for instance gratification (the “lizard” brain), the move from the connections of individuals with their societies to the disconnect of individuals from society that is all too common especially in the western countries. Finally, Roberts explains both the ineptitude of our political system and what has brought it there. The answer, according to Robert, is the defining of all that we do, our motivations and expectations, by finances. It is not money that is the root of all evil, but our blinding love of money that creates the impulse society.Roberts is a clear and concise writer that ties in themes ranging from emotion to technology. He defines his terms and stays on track throughout the book. While the book tends towards the political left, he does not leave out the fact that it is politics, not only the “left” or “right” versions of politics, that is defiled and defined by our continued worship and definition of financial progress. The book is very well organized and references are plentiful.Roberts’ point hits home. The impulse society is defined by short-term self-gratification that is no longer held in contempt, but is now the default principle guiding our society. Roberts admits that this idea is not his, but of Christopher Lasch’s book, The Culture of Narcissism, which Roberts draws from. I’m not sure that there is a good argument against Roberts’ claims, but Roberts does offer solutions towards the end; none of them easy, but again “easy” is what has brought us to this point in the first place. A great read for those of us tired of the constant consumerism and marketing that has come to define our culture.

  • Graham
    2019-02-28 16:03

    I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway.This is an interesting topic, the impulse society, about how people have continued to change from a society based system to a new short term, instant, rewards and individualism. The book has been well researched and the author clearly knows his topic, although the book has clearly been written slanted towards the authors opinion he does have valid arguments. Each chapter, or subchapter, begins by looking at the past, either using stories or interviews with experts, before being processed into either future predictions or the authors opinion on where we are going wrong. Bizarrely it is very clear, almost a different author completely, when this past research goes into the authors opinion. I really enjoyed the first part but when the author starts his opinion pieces the chapter suddenly becomes a struggle, it's almost as if he is trying to get his word count up and simply doesn't flow. I found myself having to reread pages after daydreaming whilst reading the end of chapters, yet the beginning of each chapter was captivating.This would easily have been a four star, maybe even a five star, if it wasn't for the authors monotonous writing style during his summing up.

  • David
    2019-03-04 17:16

    For those who do not understand the current crisis we have in the age of what Daniel Bell called, the 3rd stage of consumerism; then those must still be in a womb of "consuming liberalism"..Author does not use complex data, nor statistics to show the current rotten state we humans are in. Because he has been quoting with many other authors who depicted the very problem of our human beings. It is really not the technology, but the root problem is we are living in an age of "maximizing shareholder's value". Down from corporate governance (not really), financial reporting, larvish management pay package, obscene corporate stock buyback (repurchase), expensive EMBA program which teaches and which spread the concepts of "building fast, building mass, and buying fast"..the most notable scene is the Black Friday disgusting goods'; chasing at the mall, etc..Have we really think about the concept of "needs" and "wants"...just as Chris Hedges said: inverted totalitarianism. Author Roberts does not use fancy words, terms, formula, because he does not need to. And his book makes it much more simpler for the sheeples to awake...it is time...

  • Gary Knapton
    2019-02-25 15:16

    A charming and energetic essay with a fresh new observation on the decline of community values and the problems with capitalism in its current form. As are Nick Davies and Noam Chomsky to political media, Dr Robert Lustig to Big Sugar and Paul Collier to global immigration so is Paul Roberts to our modern egocentric society. Cleverly bringing together a host of familiar competences and phenomena from digital technology and Wall Street to residential architecture and SuperPACS this is a cogent and well rounded indictment of society that feels uncomfortably "on the money". The institutions of social fabric have fallen - from the family unit to churches and groups - yet had you considered the function creep of your iPhone, your car or the TV set to fill the ensuing vacuum ? Paul Roberts tells us what deep down we should already have known and it's an urgent intervention. Rounding off with a message of hope. Buy a real paper copy as it's one to annotate, cross-reference and pass on. This will be in my Top Twenty review of "2016 Reads" come Christmas.

  • Patrick Macke
    2019-02-28 13:13

    i have a hard time blaming the author when i pick a crappy book ... after all, it's not his job to meet my personal expectations and apparently he is meeting the needs of the economists, sociologists and members of his fan club who rate books ... i was hoping to find practical insights for better living in an all-about-me world; alas, i made an impulse purchase ... rather, this book is a case of stating the obvious (a thousand times), namely, Americans are selfish, self absorbed and inclined to spend money they don't have; and if you didn't know that, then this revelation is gonna floor you - selfish, financially-irresponsible technology addicts can cause a negative drag on society ... the author tries really hard to brand this thing called the "impulse society", and what is the impulse society you say? Unfortunately it's a boring economics book sometimes disguised as social commentary, a visit from captain obvious that offers little gratification - instant or otherwise

  • D.L. Morrese
    2019-03-22 11:18

    Western society allows instant gratification of many of our basic needs. If we want food, we can get it NOW. Clothing? Housing? Gadgets? As long as you have the money, it's all available on a whim, and for basic things, most people have the money. If not, they have the credit, and therein lies a tale. I think the point of the argument in this book is that easy gratification of basic needs leads people to expect that all their needs and desires not only can but should be instantly met. This makes them more attuned to short-term over long-term goals, more selfish, less community minded, and far less willing to compromise. Although I thought the author's observations about U.S. politics and economics were accurate, I'm not convinced that the economic inequities and political divisiveness that now exist can be directly attributed to expectations resulting from advances in production and distribution of goods. Still, an interesting book with some good points.

  • Ivy
    2019-02-23 14:15

    This book receives my highest recommendation. In this book you'll see how and why the characteristic that most defines today's world is instant-gratification. It is well-researched, very interdisciplinary, and the opening chapters of the book are especially fascinating in their discussion, for instance, of how General Motors played a primary role in making mainstream: (A) consumer credit, and (B) new models every year (or very often, for cars and many other commodities). I'm afraid this review will be woefully inadequate in fully expressing my impression of this book. That aside, I'll finish simply by saying this (which may be something I've never before said): "This is the only academic work you need to read this year." I was stricken by how much "bigger" the work is than the title suggests. Give it a look.

  • Tony Drummond
    2019-03-23 17:17

    This is a well researched book looking at "The Impulse Society" and the problems that it poses.For me this was a bit hit and miss - I enjoyed the chapters that looked at why we as humans battle with the need to take long term decisions that are often overridden by the need for instant gratification. Many of the anecdotes and examples rang a bell with me and these sections really engaged me.However, sections of the book that covered American politics and economy I found less interesting and trudged through these chapters. This may have been because I'm not from America and so these areas were hard to relate to.As at least half the book is politics/economy themed it was this reason why I gave the book only 3 stars.

  • Matthew Trevithick
    2019-03-09 14:53

    2.5 stars really - I am and always have been sympathetic with the main premise of this book (our culture instant gratification is neither satisfying and is damaging our ability to plan long term) but this book unfortunately isn't that well structured or persuasive - it covers the same material again and again in every chapter. Which is a pity, because this surely is a problem we need to worry about.

  • Norbert
    2019-03-22 16:51

    Although not necessary apocalyptic that is where we're heading due to the "me now" concept. The good news is that it won't happen for several more years and by that time I'll be dead. If this country collapses the only ones who have to worry about it now are those 50 years old or younger. The question is, why is instant gratification so gratifying when we know we'll just have to pay for all of it in the future?

  • Patrick Oster
    2019-03-07 14:53

    A detailed explanation of why the U.S. is in such a mess with -- selfish short-termism in a nutshell -- and a somewhat plausible explanation of how we get out of it. Mostly it's a call on all of us to be more practical and responsible and middle of the road, to tune-out the nutballs on right and left, but question is: who will step forward to persuade a majority of us to chuck the suicidal political system we seem to find ourselves in?

  • Jan
    2019-03-03 11:05

    I got this book from my local library, expecting to be bored by yet another analysis of the first world economy. But, I am very much absorbed by it, picking it up to read more than my current fiction read! It's very thought provoking in parts, but there is too much boring repetition - the book could have been half that length. If it were not for that I would have given it 4 stars

  • Mary
    2019-03-22 18:56

    I received this book from Goodreads First Reads. While I'm sure this was a very interesting book, it did not interest me at all and I was fairly bored the whole time. There really isn't much else to say.

  • Jen
    2019-02-26 16:20

    Great, comprehensive look at society today. I loved how they thoroughly delved into topics such as the economy and politics, while accurately describing both liberals and conservatives, without bullying either side. Very enjoyable read.