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Janice Stein : The Cult of Efficiency

"These lectures are about post-industrial society in the making. There is a growing emphasis on efficiency in this era of globalization, and the language of efficiency shapes the way citizens think about their most important shared values. But hidden in the polemics about efficiency are, I believe, much more important and enduring conversations about accountability and choice in post-industrial societies. To discover how these arguments live in practice, to move beyond the fixed positions of our political warriors, I wanted to look at what we as citizens are saying about public schools and hospitals. It is here that citizens engage in the most immediate and practical ways with the arguments of our times. I think by listening to these very local debates we can explore the dilemmas of democratic processes in a global age, where waste is a sin but the public trust remains sacred. Surprisingly, I find that citizens want to see both less and more of the state. Although citizens in post-industrial society are less deferential, more distrustful of authority, and more confident of their capacity to make the important choices, the escape from the state is more apparent than real." (real audio)

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