Roles of Future Imaginaries
This article is part of my Master’s Thesis - Future Imaginaries. Previous Chapter: 3.2.2 Components of future imaginaries
A detailed analysis of the roles that Future Imaginaries play in societies is beyond the scope of this thesis. Nevertheless, the following summarizes the authors’ various hints from chapter 2 on the possible roles of futures and imaginaries. It is in the character of Future Imaginaries that now and then, it is hard to distinguish between a description of their characteristics and the role they take. Many authors define them mainly by their role and neglect aspects such as specific characteristics or components.
Polak uses the ‘pull of the future’ to describe the role of images of the future in driving cultural evolution. Inayatullah cites Michael and Anderson, whose concept of ‘stories’ at the macro level is to help create order and to place individual existence within a larger framework of meaning and purpose. Taylor reinforced this point in his description of Social Imaginaries by defining them in terms of their role as the basis for living together and behaving properly with one another. For Beckert, it is only through the existence of Fictional Expectations that capitalist action becomes possible in the context of uncertain futures. The shared image of the future coordinates expectations.
Future imaginaries serve society in coordinating its collective approach to an uncertain future and making it manageable in everyday life. They provide orientation for decisions and legitimize actions concerning the future. At the same time, Future Imaginaries are part of the fundamental collective self-understanding that determines the identity of a society or group in society. With Anderson, a group can emerge simply by having the same expectation of the future (cf. chapter 2.2.1). The performativity of Future Imaginaries, in turn, consolidates collective future expectations, shared self-understanding, and underlying values.
Since Future Imaginaries are understood in this thesis as a specific perspective on societal expectations of the future from the perspective of futures studies, a particular role of Future Imaginaries for futures studies also results from this. Thus, dealing with Future Imaginaries allows for a deepening investigation of the validity claims of futures described in the previous chapter and chapter 2.1.1 based on the knowledge components and premises. In this way, especially the premises, in the form of unspoken presuppositions, which are incorporated into the images of the future, can be better traced. Thus, the understanding of the present can be deepened as it was formulated in chapter 1.4 as the goal of critical futures studies. The role of Future Imaginaries in society also illustrates the possibilities for futures studies if futures studies can identify not only Future Imaginaries but also develop alternative futures based on them. How futures studies can methodically accomplish the identification, deconstruction, and reconstruction requires further investigation and development. Initial approaches can be found in chapter 4.
Next Chapter: 3.3 Differentiation from similar terms