Theoretical Visions: How Social Theories Can Inform the Elaboration of Future Visions and Scenarios

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Gabor KIRALY, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Budapest Business School, Budapest, Hungary, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Zsuzsanna GERING, Budapest Business School, Hungary
The development of future visions and scenarios is a well-established practice in scientific, private and public contexts. However, it is often the case that the project or research organisers’ pre-reflective social theories concerning the operation of society are fuzzy and ambiguous. This may lead to the selection of inadequate methodologies. In this paper, the authors argue that it is highly important to incorporate social theoretical considerations into scenario and vision creation since various theories can not only provide different starting points but they can also guide the very mindset about the future.

Furthermore, since vision and scenario elaboration are often conducted by utilising various methodologies, especially in a participatory context, it might be advisable to aim for a match between the aims of the process, the theoretical starting points and the methodology.

With reference to the above mentioned arguments, this paper discusses a participatory backcasting process about the future of Hungarian higher education where the organisers have attempted to synchronise social theoretical considerations, the choice of methodology and the aims of the process.

In the first part of the paper we introduce the project by presenting its aims and the theoretical and methodological choices made before the project. In the second part, we present the methodological lessons to be learned from this project as far as scenario and vision elaborations are concerned. Lastly, we return to the original question, that is, how social theoretical considerations be involved in scenario and vision creation and why it is important to do so.