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  You are in: Home > Cultural & Social Studies > The Chrysalis Effect  

The Chrysalis Effect
The Metamorphosis of Global Culture

Philip Slater

Philip Slater is the author of the bestseller, The Pursuit of Loneliness, and nine other nonfiction books, including Wealth Addiction and A Dream Deferred, as well as a novel, How I Saved the World. He has also written twenty plays, and has taught writing and playwriting at UCSC and in private workshops since 1989. His blogs appear frequently in The Huffington Post.

The Chrysalis Effect
shows that the chaos and conflict experienced worldwide today are the result of a global cultural metamorphosis, one which has accelerated so rapidly in recent decades as to provoke fierce resistance. Many of the changes that have taken place in the last fifty years – the feminist movement, the rapid spread of democracy, the global economy, quantum physics, minority movements, the peace movement, the sexual revolution – are part of this cultural transformation. Contrary to accepted opinion, the conflict it engenders is not a struggle between Left and Right, or between the West and Islam, but one taking place within the Left, within the Right, within the West, within Islam, within everyone and every institution.

Currently, the world is in the middle of an adaptive process, moving toward a cultural ethos more appropriate to a species living in a shrinking world and in danger of destroying its habitat –a world that increasingly demands for its survival integrative thinking, unlimited communication, and global cooperation.

Award-winning author Philip Slater explains the metamorphosis of global culture through the analogy of the transition from caterpillar to butterfly – the Chrysalis Effect – whereby by old cultural assumptions are challenged and innovations are seen as a social ill, a critical moral infection, and attacked as such by the upholders of tradition. And when the budding culture replaces the previous one, it doesn’t create a new way of being out of nothing, but merely rearranges old patterns to make the new ones.

Today our world is caught in the middle of this disturbing transformative process –a process that creates confusion over values, loss of ethical certainty, and a bewildering lack of consensus about almost everything. The Chrysalis Effect provides an answer to the question: Why is the world in such a mess?



Part I The Way It Works

1 In the Middle of the Bridge
2 The Way of Change: Purity Destroys

Part II The Effects

3 On Gender Concepts: Is Stupidity Masculine?
4 On Thinking: Becoming a Verb
5 On Authority: Getting Out From Under
6 On Our Psyches: The Illusion of Control
7 On Warfare: The Decaying Glory
8 On Religion: Back to Nature

Part III Where We’re Heading
9 Is America’s Decline Reversible?


“PHILIP SLATER’S BOOK The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture was published in 2008 by the smallish Sussex Academic Press. It appeared without any noticeable publicity in the United States and so far has flown under the radar. Yet it may stand as his magnum opus; it’s a thought-provoking study that turns a long lens on human history, culture, economy, and social structures. Always adept at spotting patterns before others notice them, Slater here describes cultural styles that play out on a macroscopic, Toynbee-like level, while stitching these massive systems closely to the facts of daily life. ... Many of today’s jarring dislocations, he asserts, stem from the clash between the ancient system of control culture and a newer pattern: integrative culture. “Incivility and chaos arise when an old system is breaking down and a new one hasn’t yet fully taken hold,” he writes. The “chrysalis” of the title refers to the transitional state between one life form and the successor that grows out of it.” Harvard Magazine

“There’s no other way to put it: ‘The Chrysalis Effect’ is the most brilliant tour de force of this decade. It is, and will continue to be, the most powerful and original analysis of this century's planetary vertigo. Without exaggeration, Slater’s path-breaking illumination of our global ‘state of mind’ can be compared only with the work of a Gibbon, or Toynbee or Plutarch. It’s that profound and should be the most widely read book for years to come.” Professor Warren Bennis, University of Southern California, author of Transparency and Judgment

“ Beautifully written, this wide-ranging book is full of fascinating information and trenchant insights. The Chrysalis Effect is an important contribution to the cultural transformation urgently needed today.” Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and The Blade and The Real Wealth of Nations

“He brilliantly demonstrates the principles of Integrative Culture in action – that all things are indeed connected in the network age.” Rosabeth Kanter, author of America the Principled

“This book ought to launch a thousand necessary discussions.” Todd Gitlin, author of The Intellectuals and the Flag

“Driving the political debates that dominate the daily news are deeper cultural choices that must be considered.” Jerold Starr, author of Air Wars: The Fight to Reclaim Public Broadcasting

“Let this engrossing book cast its spell on you and you’ll see the world anew.” Frances Moore Lappé, author of Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage in a World Gone Mad

“Taking the metaphor from evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris, American sociologist Slater (The Pursuit of Loneliness) compares Western culture to a caterpillar dissolving itself and being dissolved at the same time, so it can remake itself as a butterfly. His goal is to help readers understand the metamorphosis taking place, ease the discomfort during the time of transition, and adapt to changes that are both inevitable and necessary.” Reference & Research Book News


Publication Details

Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
December 2008
  Illustrated:   No
Paperback Price:
£17.95 / $29.95

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