Comparing Methodologies of Future Studies
The aim of this session is to compare and discuss the methodologies of different kinds of future studies in sociology. There is apparently a paradox in that it has become a common part of sociological research to analyze trends and build scenarios of the future, but at the same time there is a general lack of methodological reflection of future studies. With the accelerating pace of societal change, the need to take bearings of future developments has increased, which creates an urgent need for analyzing the principles and procedures of inquiring into the future.
Thus, there is a range of crucial methodological questions to be addressed and discussed. First, what is the relationship between diagnosis of the times (Zeitdiagnose) that diagnoses tendencies in the times and sociology of the future that builds scenarios of future society – both of which can be traced back to the founders of sociology (Beck 2001; Urry 2008; Hammershøj 2015)? Second, what are the differences between building scenarios of specific contexts, which is common in management studies, and building scenarios of society in general? Third, what is the differences between prognosis of developments, extrapolation of trends and diagnosis of tendencies? Fourth, is it possible to distinguish types of future studies in regard to whether their focus is on the outcome of change or the process of change, and whether their purpose is to take bearings of change or call attention to the need for action?
The format is presentation of individual papers and plenum discussion.