Understanding and resolving the global problematique: Assessing the balance between progressive and socially conservative foresight

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Foresight, 2009, 11 (5), pp. 21 - 39
Issue Date:
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Purpose - This paper draws on research undertaken for the State of Play in the Futures Field (SoPiFF) project and aims to explore the contribution of futures work to understanding and resolving aspects of the global problematique and to examine the social interests evident in futures work. Design/methodology/approach - The project used an integral meta-scanning framework to review publicly available futures material. The framework categorizes futures work according to organizational type, social interests, methods, domains and geographic location (details of the methodology are outlined in the accompanying introductory paper as well as on the web site created for the project). Findings - The futures field has made a series of significant contributions to understanding the global problematique and has contributed to the pre-conditions for its resolution. However, the bulk of mainstream futures work does little to improve the preparedness of humanity for looming future crises. More innovative futures work remains marginalized and largely ignored by the powerful and the wider public. There is a strong case for more effective political engagement than has occurred hitherto. Research limitations/implications - Further research is needed on shared definitions for the field, interactions with the media, public and other fields of enquiry and action, measurement of individual foresight capacity, strategies for achieving influence - particularly in the political sphere, the role of subcultures within the futures field and suitable publishing strategies. Practical implications - The paper recommends specific actions to promote and publicize good work, provide annual digests of futures-related information, develop and use focused briefings, provide support for "cutting-edge" futures work, further develop advanced futures methods, create new alliances, build the social capacity for foresight and strengthen the nexus between foresight and philanthropy. Originality/value - The paper uses an integral meta-scanning framework to provide a novel analysis of the futures field. The findings will be of value to all futures and foresight practitioners that are interested in the future success of the field. © Richard A. Slaughter.
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