The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 15, No. 3 (Fall 2013)
New York: Routledge, 2013.
Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 15.3 (Fall 2013). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.
“O urs is the era of ‘reinvention.’” So announces the first sentence of this slim volume. Faced with the challenges of globalization, many people today take for granted the necessity and inevitability of change—personal, organizational, institutional—and are preoccupied with ways to achieve it. They feel they must be ready and willing to reinvent themselves—their bodies, their careers, and even their identities. Not only individuals, but governments, organizations, corporations, indeed whole cities, are likewise focused on reinventing themselves in order to be larger, more successful, more profitable, more competitive. To assist in these transformations, there is no shortage of tools, programs, organizations, websites, and proprietary knowledge systems. An army of specialists, consultants, and gurus stand ready to show the way.
Anthony Elliott, a professor of sociology at the University of South Australia, provides an informative and frequently entertaining account of how people seek to reinvent their bodies and themselves via weight loss, cosmetic surgery, speed therapy, and various other techniques of self-help. Through an examination of the words and beliefs of their leaders and those who advise them, he shows how corporations strive to reinvent their markets, organizational structure and culture, and relations with other organizations in the face of global competition. Likewise, he depicts the reinvention of entire cities to meet the needs and desires of citizens of the global society, along with mega-malls, mega-resorts, and mega-airports....