<html><head /> <body> <META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-16"><title>The Wired Life</title><meta name="keywords" content="counseling,employment,trends,working,life,careers,culture,entrepreneurs,europe,gray,information,insecurity,jobs,John,lifestyle,occupations,professions,skills,sociology,technology,vocations,wired,career,"><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; " align="center" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td style="background-color:silver; border-color:white; border-left-style:none; border-style:none; " width="730"><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; ">The Wired Life</span></td> </tr> <tr> </tr> </tbody></table><br><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium; " align="center" bgcolor="white" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td height="131" width="669"><p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small;"><strong>Editors Introduction</strong></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; "> </span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><IMG SRC="auth_gray.gif" WIDTH="80" HEIGHT="110" ALT="Gray" VSPACE="0" HSPACE="3" BORDER="0" ALIGN="right"> John Gray (right), professor of European thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science, argues that the career is in decline. Working lives are becoming fragmented as people switch vocations and careers with increasing frequency. But what will such dramatic shifts mean for future generations?</span><br> <br> <br> </p> <p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">We are in the early stages of a transformation of working life. The career is in unavoidable decline. In the past, it was reasonable for most people to aspire to enter a vocation or profession and remain in it through their working lives. Now it is no longer realistic for the working majority to expect such a stable, linear progression. The reason is not increasing job insecurity. It is not the number of jobs, or the length of time spent in them, that is changing. Rather, more and more people are finding it necessary to change their occupations radically, once or more during their working lives.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">There are a number of forces bringing about this transformation, but the most important is the diffusion of information technology. In economies that are increasingly based on these new technologies, it no longer makes sense to invest skills once in a lifetime. Technical innovation and economic change is too quick. Industries die out or change shape continuously. Skills become obsolete in a few years. In knowledge-based economies, the working majority will have to acquire new skills, not in order to effect a one-off shift in career but to cope with an environment in which the institution of the career itself is becoming obsolete.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">There are serious moral and social risks in the decline of careers. The loss of a single pathway through the world of work can lead to frustration and alienation. Careers gave people a stable identity in society. They bound together the phases of working life, so that for many the natural life cycle of ageing and seniority in a profession or organisation went together. With the loss of careers, the risk is that the world of work becomes fragmented and formless, and all of working life permanently provisional.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">In this new world, two different forms of working life are emerging--the wired and the entrepreneurial. In the wired life--found not only in Silicon Valley but throughout much of the new economy that has grown up around information technology--the career has been replaced by a succession of projects. For them, the individualist values of personal self-realisation are paramount. By contrast, though they share with wired people a belief in creativity, entrepreneurs see themselves not as free-floating individuals but as people who have a definite place in the history of one or more communities. They are deeply committed to the enterprises they found and develop.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">By itself, the wired life is not a viable alternative to the career. It is too individualistic and too exposed to the risks of failure. For most people, only the more socially rooted life of entrepreneurship can provide a meaningful successor to careers. Yet, from pensions to education, we continue to take the institution of the career for granted.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">We are teaching people to view the career as the most desirable form of employment at a time when careers are becoming progressively rarer. Our core institutions will need to be restructured, if we and our children are to thrive as entrepreneurs.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; font-style:italic; ">Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science.</span></p></td> </tr> </tbody></table> </body></html>