The Great Disruption – Project and Articles

The Great Disruption is a research and publishing project focused on the transformative impact of automation and globalization, in a world dominated by a particular kind of corporate culture. It examines the various components of the transformation now upon us, and uses the analysis of particular sectors to show how different the future is likely to be from the past.

If all goes well, I plan to collect these posts and essays into a book. I also plan to podcast highlights from these pieces. To take better advantage of web based publication, I also plan to publish a series of standalone charts related to the project, as well as bibliographies based on my research for each piece.

I hope you will engage with the project and provide your thoughts and criticisms as we go along. That feedback will be invaluable.

Thanks for your attention – the currency of the coming economy.



















The Great Disruption: The Future of Work in the 21st Century

Robin Gaster

January 2017



Chapter 1. Summary

Chapter 2. The Great Disruption

  • Technological change
  • Hyperglobalization
  • Modern capitalism and its culture
  • Demographics and immigration

Chapter 3. Signposts: what the data tell us now

  • Employment: signs that work is not what it was
    • Unemployment and labor force participation
    • Job polarization
    • Underemployment
  • Pay: Rapid shifts in income distribution
    • Median income
    • Income quintiles
    • Income dispersion within occupations
  • The context of work: essays on the changing character of work
    • Credentialism
    • Technology in job recruitment
    • The prisoner’s dilemma
    • Disability and other physical barriers
    • Techno-Taylorism
    • Health effects of the Great Disruption
    • The “skills shortage”
  • Beyond 9-5: part timers, freelancers, and the gig economy
    • Decline of 9-5
    • Type of replacement: gigs, freelancers, multiple job holders
    • Comparing full time and part time work
    • Is 9-5 dying?
  • Millennials: the canary in the coalmine for the future of work
    • Why they are the future of work?
    • Jobs
    • Earnings
    • Gigs and part time
    • Inequality and divergence
    • Impacts on housing, family, and lifestyle

Chapter 4. The Big Squeeze

  • The American social contract
  • The quad-squeeze:
    • Pay and employment
    • Health care
    • College costs
    • Retirement
  • The end of job stability

Chapter 5. The near future as the Great Disruption unfolds

  • The logical structure of the Great Disruption
    • The irresistible logic of automation
    • Declining impact of globalization – the damage is done
    • The demographic context
    • Why corporations both drive automation and are trapped by its logic
  • Seven sectors: drivers of change and job impacts [uses multiple case studies]
    • Health care
    • Government services
    • Manufacturing
    • Logistics and transportation
    • Administration and supporting services
    • Finance and insurance
    • Military

Chapter 6. This time is different – why the future will not be like the past

  • Speed
  • Scale
  • Scope
  • Resolving the productivity paradox: why GNP is increasingly unmeasurable

Chapter 7. The far future: utopias and dystopias

  • Dystopias
  • Utopias
  • Muddling through
  • The search for meaning beyond work

Chapter 8. Policies and politics in the age of disruption

  • The problem of subsistence
  • The problem of meaning
  • The problem of transition: finding and growing pathways
  • Policy option and prescriptions
  • A new politics? Realignment of the middle class in America

2017_01_06 The Great Disruption – book outline