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Rifkin Book Explores Ramifications Of 'Age Of Access'

In Jeremy Rifkin's latest book, The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism Where All of Life is a Paid-for Experience (2000, Penguin Putnam Inc.), the author argues that the foundation of economic and social life -- the market exchange of property between sellers and buyers -- is fast becoming obsolete. Intellectual capital, and not physical assets such as equipment and real estate, is the driving force of the new era, he says. The capitalist system is transforming from a goods-producing to a service-performing and experience-generating economy. E-mail addresses and commerce-based relationships are fast replacing real addresses and real relationships. Outsourcing is becoming the norm. Physical property, once considered a valued asset, is now regarded as a liability in the corporate world. In the future, individual market transactions will give way to "commodified" relationships in networks in the form of memberships, subscriptions, leases, rentals, and retainer agreements. In his book, Rifkin also says that in the 21st century, having access will be as important as having property was in the 20th century. He asks whether or not civilization can survive when only commercial bonds, and not cultural ones, hold society together.

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