Chapter 16: What Problems Are on the Way?
The future is a social construct alone. It doesn’t exist yet; we have to imagine it, based on current
trends, hopes, wishes, fears, and calculations of chance.
What is Future Studies?
• It is the area of research concerned with forecasting possible scenarios—technological,
economic, political, social, environmental—in order to prepare for and shape what may come.
• Humans will not inevitably repeat the past but neither are they likely to depart completely from
Alternative Forecasting Methods
• Genius forecasting: relies mainly on intuition and insight
• Trend extrapolation: examines trends and cycles in historical data; it uses mathematical
techniques to predict the future from the past.
• Consensus methods of forecasting: experts make judgments on the likelihood of certain
outcomes and then evaluate the opinions and answers given by their peers.
• Stimulation methods: uses analogs to model complex systems
→ Game analogs may be used to model the interactions of players in imagined social
interactions—for example, in studying negotiation and bargaining.
• Scenario method: a narrative forecast that describes a potential course of events. Asking the
o Can we survive the worst possible scenario?
o Will we be happy with the most likely scenario?
o Are we able to take advantage of the best possible scenario?
• Decision trees: are graphical devices to help illustrate the relationships between choices.
Theoretical Perspectives on Future Studies
Structural • Future studies look into alternative futures and identify the most probable social
• Looking to the future encourages people to reflect on current patterns of events
and to make adjustments to prevent social problems to occur in the future.
Conflict Theory • Different forecasting and stimulation methods produce different insights into the
probability of certain events occurring that may favour one population subgroup
• Gossip and rumour may spread misinformation and create moral panic or fear
Interactionism • The rise of cyberspace and virtual communities hides many social factors (i.e.
gender, race, and class) that often prevent similar people from interacting with one
Feminist Theory •