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  • Mark 5:22 pm on April 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beckert, , , future,   

    The consequences of our expectations 

    In his Imagined Futures, Jens Beckert suggests four ways in which fictional expectations make an impact on the social world:

    1. They coordinate actors by providing a common focus to their action
    2. They are able to shape the future by conditioning what action happens
    3. The freedom involved in fiction means they are not constrained by reality and are thus capable of stimulating innovation
    4. They motivate real decisions which have consequences on the distribution of resources and the projects which actors have to pursue and contest them, including the attempts to influence expectations because of the consequences they have.
  • Mark 3:57 pm on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , future, futurity, platform imaginaries   

    The sociology of expectations (and platform imaginaries) 

    In his Imagined Futures, Jens Beckert offers a sociology of expectations which reconstructs the role of imagination in how people orientate themselves to the future. From pg 9:

    If actors are orientated toward the future and outcomes are uncertain, then how can expectations be define? What are expectations under conditions of uncertainty? That is the central question to which this book seeks an answer. If we take uncertainty seriously instead of conflating it with risk, it becomes evident that expectations cannot be probabilistic assessments of future states of the world. Under genuine uncertainty, expectations become interpretative frames that structure situations through imaginaries of future states of the world and of causal relations.

    There are a few reasons I’m reading this. But I’m particularly interested in making sense of how users imagine platforms and what this means for their expectations of how their use of the platform will bring about certain ends. The role of the future in platform imaginaries might not seem self-evidently important but Beckert’s analysis can be used to make sense of how possibility is conveyed to users and how this in turn shapes their use.

  • Mark 7:04 pm on May 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , future, , , , speculative fiction,   

    CFP: Imagining Radical Futures, Princeton Oct. 5th 

    An interesting CfP I’m saving for my future reference

    *Imagining Radical Futures: Anthropological Potentialities?*
    Princeton Anthropology Graduate Conference
    October 5th, 2018
    Princeton University

    *“The facts, alone, will not save us. Social change requires novel fictions
    that reimagine and rework*
    *all that is taken for granted about the current structure of society”
    (Benjamin 2016)*

    Anthropology has traditionally practiced restraint to speak only of what we know by virtue of “being there”. Anthropologists have embraced the limitations of knowledge while demonstrating the power of attention to the specific and the particular, to contest positivism and moralizing normativity. Increasingly, governments and corporations attempt to mobilize anthropological knowledge about social change, geopolitical events, sustainability and resilience as a predictive tool. Yet productive recognition of indeterminacy that anthropological theory and practice evokes opens doors to the imaginary, the hopeful, the potential, and the dreamed. This conference will explore the potential of non-predictive futures in anthropological thought and the methodological complexities of imagining futures from the present. The binary of “dark anthropology” and “anthropology of the good” (Ortner 2016) belies complexities and tensions in anthropological approaches to social change: anthropology can report, embody, employ, and open toward or against utopian ideals. What are the implications of imaginative fictions for interlocutors, ethnographers, and the discipline? What radical possibilities can anthropology’s fundamental questions about difference, relationality, and power open for us as we attempt to engage with futurity?

    We seek contributions from graduate students in anthropology whose work contributes to understanding imagined futures and extends the anthropological imagination. How can anthropology treat the imaginary as both a heuristic and a space of futurity? What social role can anthropology play in voicing potential futures otherwise? How can ethnographers engage differently with interlocutors’ imagined futures?

    Potential areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • New technologies
    • Queering Progress
    • Novel Fictions/Anthrofictions
    • Nonhuman futures
    • Creativity and imagination
    • Climate and environment
    • Hope at the margins
    • Aging
    • Temporality of Markets
    • Policy

    Interested applicants should submit an individual abstract (250-300 words) in addition to brief biographies on or before July 1st to antcon@princeton.edu. Limited travel funds may be available TBD.

    Benjamin, Ruha. “Racial Fictions, Biological Facts: Expanding the
    Sociological Imagination through Speculative Methods,” Catalyst:
    Feminism, Theory, Technoscience: Vol 2, no. 2 (2016), 1-28.
    Ortner, Sherry B. “Dark Anthropology and Its Others: Theory since the
    Eighties.” HAU : Journal of Ethnographic Theory: Vol 6, no. 1
    (2016): 47–73.

  • Mark 11:43 pm on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , future, future studies, , ,   

    Who could object to a project that seeks to stop killer robots? 

    Who could object to a project that seeks to stop killer robots? The UK government apparently:

    The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an alliance of human rights groups and concerned scientists, is calling for an international prohibition on fully autonomous weapons.

    Last week Human Rights Watch released a report urging the creation of a new protocol specifically aimed at outlawing Laws. Blinding laser weapons were pre-emptively outlawed in 1995 and combatant nations since 2008 have been required to remove unexploded cluster bombs.

    Some states already deploy defence systems – such as Israel’s Iron Dome and the US Phalanx and C-Ram – that are programmed to respond automatically to threats from incoming munitions. Work is also progressing on what is known as “automatic target recognition”.

    The Foreign Office told the Guardian: “At present, we do not see the need for a prohibition on the use of Laws, as international humanitarian law already provides sufficient regulation for this area.

    “The United Kingdom is not developing lethal autonomous weapons systems, and the operation of weapons systems by the UK armed forces will always be under human oversight and control. As an indication of our commitment to this, we are focusing development efforts on remotely piloted systems rather than highly automated systems.”


    While the idea of autonomous weapons systems immediately summons up the prospect of something akin to a flash crash that does much more than destroy fictitious capital, it seems far from obvious to me that the prohibition of as yet unrealised technologies is necessarily the best way to ameliorate a putative future problem.

  • Mark 7:24 am on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , future, ,   

    Call for Papers: Futures in Question conference 

    Call for Papers
    11-12 September 2014
    Goldsmiths, University of London 
    How is the future imagined, planned for and manifested as the site of social and political struggle?
    Is the idea of progress towards a better future challenged as a result of financial, environmental, political and health crises?
    How do the social sciences, arts and humanities study the future – theoretically and methodologically – and how might they develop modes of analysis to invent different futures?
    This conference will explore the contours of ‘the future’ in our current context of multiple financial, ecological and political crises. We are interested in drawing out intersections between the variety of ways that the future is imagined, planned for and performed across the arts, humanities and social sciences.
    For example, what impact is austerity or climate change having on visions of the future? In what ways is the principle of progress and the linear unfolding of time being re-thought across different theoretical projects and via methodologies that aim to deal with virtuality, liveness and immediacy?  Should we give up on the future, or (re-)invest in the not-yet? Is the future ‘in question’ in the same ways across different national or cultural contexts, or for different people?  How might time itself be involved in the workings of power and privilege?
    We invite proposals for individual papers and panels, as well as other alternative presentation formats on themes including but not restricted to:
    • theories of time, futurity and the future
    • methodologies such as speculation, forecasting, modeling, design, or scenario-planning
    • affect and futurity, including anticipation, pre-emption, hope, optimism, anxiety
    • planning and futurity, including architecture and spatial planning
    • imaginations and materializations of the future, including expectations, promises, utopias, and popular cultural representations
    • politics and futurity, including security, risk, governance
    • critical temporalities, including  slow design, contemplative computing, anti-anxiety objects
    We welcome proposals from a diverse range of fields including Sociology, Geography, STS, Cultural Studies, Media and Communications, Design, Anthropology, Literature, Politics, International Relations and Architecture.
    See http://www.austerityfutures.org.uk/ for more information and details on presentation formats and timings. Please send your proposals to Rebecca Coleman:futures@lancaster.ac.uk
    Deadline for proposals: 28th March 2013
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