Futures in Contention: Projective Deliberation and Transformative Politics in the Global Arena.

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Ann MISCHE, University of Notre Dame, USA
As a sociologist of culture and politics, my work focuses on “projectivity” – the imaginative engagement with future possibilities – as a core component of human agency. While there has been much attention to collective memory in cultural and political sociology, there has been less scholarly work on the role of imagined futures in social and historical change. My work points to a “sociology of the future” by examining how future projections – often tenuous and uncertain – shape and are shaped by social processes. Drawing upon pragmatist and phenomenological theory, I focus on the communicative processes by which actors continually reassess future possibilities in the face of past and current experiences. I ask how the human capacity to imagine the future (a) is shaped by social context, cultural understandings and historical forces; and (b) has the capacity to intervene in – and sometimes reconfigure – political and social trajectories. In this light, I discuss my current research on the role of future-oriented deliberations in social and political interventions across global networks focusing on development, peacebuilding and environmental sustainability. Techniques for strategic forecasting, participatory scenario planning and alternative futures visioning have traveled across social sectors, ranging from corporate and military venues  to inter-governmental agencies, transnational INGO forums, local community workshops and the global justice movement. Yet these practices have received little critical scholarly attention. I examine the transnational networks, deliberative practices, and policy influences of these new forms of futures thinking, contributing to our understanding of the role of the future imaginary in historical process.