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Imagined futures: Fictional expectations in the economy

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Abstract

Starting from the assumption that decision situations in economic contexts are characterized by fundamental uncertainty, this article argues that the decision-making of intentionally rational actors is anchored in fictions. “Fictionality” in economic action is the inhabitation in the mind of an imagined future state of the world and the beliefs in causal mechanisms leading to this future state. Actors are motivated in their actions by the imagined future and organize their activities based on these mental representations. Since these representations are not confined to empirical reality, fictional expectations are also a source of creativity in the economy. Fictionality opens up a way to an understanding of the microfoundations of the dynamics of the economy. The article develops the notion of fictional expectations. It discusses the role of fictional expectations for the dynamics of the economy and addresses the question of how fictional expectations motivate action. The last part relates the notion of fiction to calculation and social macrostructures, especially institutions and cultural frames. The conclusion hints at the research program developing from the concept of fictional expectations.

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... Vauchez 2008]. This field is first and foremost connected by a shared rationale of the future being crucial for exploring and understanding social realities of the 1 The term "imagined futures" appears across the field but has particularly been defined by Jens Beckert [2016], who associates it with fictional expectations as a driving force of capitalism. ...
... In this sense, Jens Beckert [2013Beckert [ , 2016 proposes to consider capitalist dynamics from the vantage point of imagined futures. He introduces the concept of "fictional expectations" to emphasize that, under conditions of uncertainty, economic decisions can never be probabilistic assessments but are based on contingent imaginaries of desired trajectories to the future. ...
... In this sense, Jens Beckert [2013Beckert [ , 2016 proposes to consider capitalist dynamics from the vantage point of imagined futures. He introduces the concept of "fictional expectations" to emphasize that, under conditions of uncertainty, economic decisions can never be probabilistic assessments but are based on contingent imaginaries of desired trajectories to the future. ...
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Since the 1990s sociology has rediscovered a theme already present in the discipline’s foundational theories: the salience of future perceptions for social action. This article provides an overview of “the sociology of imagined futures”, a diverse but still scattered research field explicitly engaged with expectations, aspirations and future orientations. A review of recent scholarship emphasizes how an imagined future perspective is related to a wide range of topics and allows for innovative vantage points on persisting sociological research concerns, such as inequality, social identities, agency, coordination, power or understanding innovation and change. By systematically highlighting these contributions, but also by pointing to promising lacunae and perspectives that merit further development, this article shows how a reorientation of sociological research “back to the future” seems a promising way forward.
... They anticipate and aspire to futures in their thinking and behaviour. The future influences the present (Beckert, 2013), which allows anticipatory thinking (Poli, 2014) and conducting daily life projectively (Adam, 2009). The future is about the present, and people engage it as a means to make better choices today by being aware of the multiplicity of options and consequences of choosing one future over others (Selkirk et al., 2018). ...
... According to Beckert (2013) and Iparraguirre (2018), present imaginaries of future situations provide orientation in decision-making despite the uncertainty inherent in the situation. Beckert (2013) refers to these imaginaries as "fictions", which do not have to be true but they must be convincing. ...
... According to Beckert (2013) and Iparraguirre (2018), present imaginaries of future situations provide orientation in decision-making despite the uncertainty inherent in the situation. Beckert (2013) refers to these imaginaries as "fictions", which do not have to be true but they must be convincing. Therefore, they are open to the influence of collective beliefs and powerful actors (Beckert, 2013). ...
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Consumers have needed to reorganise their daily lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become a focal question whether or not the changes will be permanent, short-lived or perhaps contribute to a transition towards new forms of consumption. Alongside changes caused directly by the pandemic, consumers have ideas, plans and hopes concerning their futures. In this article, we investigate consumers’ behaviour change and futures thinking during the pandemic. A three-month qualitative online data collection was carried out to allow consumers to reflect on their current situation and views on the future. Consumers’ future expectations and changes in consumer lifestyles during the pandemic are identified in the analysis. The results are interpreted through the theoretical perspectives of anticipation and imaginaries. In their thinking, consumers move fluently between the past, present and future, and they anticipate simplified, flexible and ecologically conscious lifestyles in the future. We conclude that primary qualitative data consisting of consumers’ futures thinking can be a valuable data source in foresight research supporting traditional expert-driven methods.
... Consequently, we deploy David Harvey's concept of geographical imaginations to develop a more thorough, spatial understanding of the relationship between housing insecurity and ontological security. Geographical imaginations play a vital role in negotiating urban and spatial narratives (Beckert 2013;Jasanoff and Kim 2015) and serve as a framework for understanding how insecurity and security is actively spatialized from a subjective viewpoint (Pain 2009, 470). ...
... Thus, geographical imaginations of urban lifeworlds can be viewed as subjective and spatial negotiations of housing insecurity, calling on us "to understand space as simultaneously material, conceptual, experienced, and practiced" (Lindner and Meissner 2018, 1). Moreover, imaginations play a significant part in the negotiation of urban narratives (Beckert 2013;Jasanoff and Kim 2015). These narratives are shaped by the shifting housing market, which affect an individual's sense of spatial inconsistency and insecurity. ...
... Moreover, this study addressed the perception of continuity within the concept of ontological security, with the addition of a spatial dimension. The empirical data revealed that residents employ specific geographical imaginations of urban living, which play an essential role in negotiating their sense of urban belonging and identityseeking (Beckert 2013;Jasanoff and Kim 2015). ...
Article
Housing insecurity has rendered urban life inherently unpredictable owing to the constant increase in rent. Consequently, housing insecurity impacts urban residents’ well-being and feelings of security. Considering this fact, this study aims to understand renters’ subjective perceptions of rental housing insecurity by exploring the ties between housing and ontological insecurity. Drawing on qualitative interviews and photo-elicitation with participants of different age groups in Berlin, this study engages with coping strategies for insecurities on the rental housing market. We apply the concept of ontological security to private tenants’ situations, and thereby, develop a spatial perspective on housing insecurity. The study’s results suggest that ontological security is continuously negotiated and shifting, and that urban geographical imaginations, contribute to residents’ notions of “being-in-the-city.”.
... However, a failure to capitalize on this opportunity may make for an extended period of disorderly systemic flux. Beckert (2013) argues that in times of uncertainty, actors are particularly likely to imagine or have fictional expectations about what the future may be like. With fiction come narratives, which can become self-fulfilling; they serve the interest of the speaker without necessarily mapping out an advisable path or ensuring future stability and growth (Beckert, 2013). ...
... Beckert (2013) argues that in times of uncertainty, actors are particularly likely to imagine or have fictional expectations about what the future may be like. With fiction come narratives, which can become self-fulfilling; they serve the interest of the speaker without necessarily mapping out an advisable path or ensuring future stability and growth (Beckert, 2013). At the same time, the manner in which such narratives unfold may represent a sharp departure from past trajectories; the choices made by actors may be difficult to predict. ...
... This gap can be addressed by using creative approaches, combining science and art (43). Story based visions can be especially impactful, as they are motivational by being emotionally charged (44). Science ction stories in particular may be useful for envisioning transformed futures, since engagement with science ction can loosen cognitive restrictions (45). ...
... Communicating possible futures by using stories might be able to elicit a heightened interest and care in audiences, since stories are emotionally charged and represent a fundamental mode of human thought and memory (44,58,60). ...
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The high seas are experiencing a stark increase in industrial activities, with resources being exploited unsustainably and shared unequally. This suggests the need for a transformation, a shift in the deeper structures of the system such as underlying paradigms and mind-sets. We created future visions by combining computational text analysis with a structured yet creative futuring approach. This process resulted in four science fiction stories, which aim to capture the complexity of the system, embrace the inherent uncertainty of the future and question current unsustainable trajectories, while emphasizing the vastness of future option space. The visions are analyzed using the concept of imaginaries, demonstrating that futuristic stories can be traced back to current realities and the scientific evidence they were based upon. We argue that engaging with alternative futures can open up transformative spaces to rethink the relationships between humans and the high seas, from which novel imaginaries can emerge.
... In the studied case, the focal strategizing companies (seafood exporters) and their key partners in the distribution network (importers) shared a fairly similar outlook on the future. It may be that the close network relationships even encouraged conditions of groupthink (Burt and Wright, 2006), or dominant logics (Cunha & Chia, 2007), making managers see the same commonly expected future (Beckert, 2013). At the same time, the strategic moves of the Tsukiji fish market came as a surprise to the very same actors even though it is one of the key players in the Japanese market. ...
... As foresight researchers rightly suggest, in complex business environments typified by uncertainty and surprise, a more open perspective of the future is necessary (MacKay, 2009;Cunha et al., 2006;Sarpong et al., 2013;Tapinos & Pyper, 2018). The future is manifest in multiple imagined alternatives (Beckert, 2013;Kaplan & Orlikowski, 2013) and therefore, instead of retrospective assessment based on learnt cognitive frames that eventually misguide or at least restrict people's comprehension (Holt & Cornelissen, 2014;Penttilä et al., 2020), strategizing should be extended to cover unknown possibilities that the future provides. ...
Article
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Visioning the future is an essential aspect of strategizing. However, how managers make sense of their networked business environment, future changes in it, and how this visioning informs their interaction and networking has hardly been explored. Drawing on organizational foresight and business network research, we enhance the visioning concept by conducting an abductive qualitative case study on its role in business network strategizing. By comparing forward-looking and backward-looking perspectives of managers in companies within a particular business network, the study reveals what managers can foresee, what limits their visioning, and to what extent visioning informs network strategizing. Our findings suggest that visioning helps managers to openly contemplate the future, to envisage structural changes, detect probable trends, and form strategic intentions, but individual cognitive frameworks and network constraints limit their visioning. The study contributes to the current sensemaking view of network strategizing by proposing a conceptual model where visioning forms an important step in between reflection and networking, and by showing how managers consciously prepare for the future.
... Belonging's ambiguity makes it a meaningful focal point of futures studies (Bissel et al., 2018), which emphasizes the power of anticipation and the possibility of forging relationships in a future time and place. Following (Beckert, 2013), we understand that visions of the future are "contingent interpretations of the situation in the context of prevailing institutional structures, cultural templates, and social networks'' (Beckert, 2013, p. 325). Diverse narratives may emerge even when they share critical features or themes (Raven & Elahi, 2015). ...
... Writing about an imagined future is a pathway for shaping and navigating the highly uncertain situations (Vigh, 2009), caused by the syndemic, where many of the expectations on which letter writers have relied to orient their behaviour are now shattered (Beckert, 2013). By leveraging narrative to anticipate the future, light is shed not only about what letter writers consider to be "desirable or not so desirable futures" but through this, also about their 'capacity to aspire' (Appadurai, 2013, p. 13). ...
Article
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The covid-19 global syndemic has upended societies worldwide and concomitantly united the world in a shared experience of lockdowns, social distancing, and economic upheaval. In the face of great uncertainty, dystopian realities, and binding government edicts, people's everyday lives, sense of agency, actions, and interactions changed forcibly. Importantly, it has disrupted many practices and routines essential for (re)constituting a sense of belonging, an important element of personhood and individual wellbeing. Using the “Letters from the Future” method, we investigate how individuals imagine and present themselves in the future to navigate this social change. We ask “How do letter writers construct a sense of belonging in a future of their own imagining?” To answer this question, we combine discourse- and text analysis with network analysis to examine 47 letters that Greek participants wrote during the Spring 2020 lockdown. We explore how individuals present and introduce their future self, what topos this self inhabits and what expressions, values, and practices they perform and negotiate as they reflect on and navigate their relational worlds. By and large, Greek letter writers recognize that inequities and injustices paved the way for the syndemic and express a pressing need for societal transformation.
... Though contemporary scholars of risk converge on a definition of risk calculation as future predictions that economic actors make with some degree of certainty by employing their calculative powers (Beckert, 2013;Callon et al., 2001;Garland, 2003), they debate the degree of mastery that risk calculation affords economic actors over an uncertain future. The contemporary view of risk has its roots in Knight's ([1921] 1965) distinction between risk and uncertainty: economic actors seeking to make a profit must anticipate the future by distinguishing between potential future outcomes whose odds of occurring are known (risks) and potential future outcomes whose odds of occurring are unknown (uncertainties). ...
... In elaborating on the shapes these narratives take and their directionality, Beckert (2016) argues that the principal obstacle actors must use these narratives to overcome is that of the radical unknowability of the future: they must accept that their risk calculations might be thwarted by future events they cannot predict. Given this, they develop imaginaries of a desired future state that serves as a placeholder for a future that uncertainty renders opaque (Beckert, 2013). Then, they create a story that guides their action by outlining the series of causally linked steps they will need to take to realize their desired future. ...
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How are risk orientations shaped in the sphere of work beyond proximate structuring institutions? In the absence of clear organizational imperatives or institutional supports, what provides the broad contours of a workable imaginary? Using interview data from small business owners in Argentina, I show that the form and content of generational memories of crisis influence the uptake of entrepreneurial discourse and apprehensions of economic risk. Older business owners draw upon their collective memory of the 2001–2002 economic crisis to engage in a process of adversarial personification that posits the macroeconomy as a cunning enemy and positions them as strategic actors. Conversely, younger small business owners—who did not live through these economic shocks as small business owners—draw upon the entrepreneurial ethos that they collectively cultivate through generational communities of practice to engage in a process of empowered distancing that minimizes the severity of economic crisis. Using Kenneth Burke’s theoretical schema to identify grammars of motive and action, I show how older business owners deploy a generationally shared narrative to develop a conceptualization of economic agency that does not derive from the entrepreneurial ethos. By arguing that collective memory generates economic subject positions, this article demonstrates that the “use value” of collective memory lies not only in its uptake by politicians, journalists, and activists engaged in political projects, but also in the everyday ways that economic actors use narratives about the past to develop strategies of risk management in the present.
... Si el futuro es una construcción imaginaria que permite lidiar con la incertidumbre, las expectativas sobre el mismo no pueden ser racionales. El concepto de Beckert (2013) de expectativas ficcionales capta esta particularidad al señalar que: ...
... A esto se agrega que la confianza en las expectativas económicas se basa también en que sean verosímiles y coherentes con elementos no ficcionales (ej. datos del presente, conceptualizaciones lógicas o tendencias estadísticas, Beckert, 2013). Los actores económicos evalúan su confianza en las expectativas ficcionales en función de los hechos disponibles y la concepción de su propia historia. ...
... A first line of reasoning points to the ways in which foreknowledge influences the beliefs and expectations of political and economic actors (Beckert, 2013). Such a view informed one of the earliest social science analyses on energy modelling, which examined the making of the first global energy forecast in the late 1970s (Wynne, 1984;Thompson, 1984). ...
Article
Ongoing debates about the need to deeply transform energy systems worldwide have spurred renewed scholarly interest in the role of future-visions and foreknowledge in energy policy. Forecasts and scenarios are in fact ubiquitous in energy debates: commonly calculated using energy models, they are employed by governments, administrations and civil society actors to identify problems, choose between potential solutions, and justify specific forms of political intervention. This article contributes to these debates through a historic study of foreknowledge-making – modelling, forecasting, and scenario-building – and its relationship to the structuring of ‘energy policy’ as an autonomous policy domain in France and Germany. It brings together two strands of literature: work in the anthropology of politics on ‘policy assemblages’, and STS research on the ‘performative’ effects of foreknowledge. The main argument is that new ways of assembling energy systems in energy modelling, and of bringing together policy networks in scenario-building and forecasting exercises, can contribute to policy change. To analyse the conditions under which such change occurs, the article focuses on two periods: the making of national energy policies as ‘energy supply policies’ in the post-war decades; and challenges to dominant approaches to energy policy and energy modelling in the 1970s and 1980s. It concludes by arguing that further research should not only focus on the effects of foreknowledge on expectations and beliefs (‘discursive performativity’), but also take into account how new models ‘equip’ political, administrative and market actors (‘material performativity’), and how forecasting practices recompose and shape wider policy worlds (‘social performativity’).
... Narratives help actors navigating in uncertainty (Beckert 2013). Scholars have applied the theoretical lens of narratives to provide insight into the diverse strategies for sustainability and create learning opportunities among them (Bushell et al. 2017;Luederitz et al. 2017;Scoones et al. 2015;Vandermoere 2019;Veland et al. 2018). ...
Article
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How can societies deal with climate change in more just and sustainable ways? In societal debates, multiple strategic pathways for dealing with climate change compete among each other. A narrative approach has been used both as an analytical tool for studying strategic pathways and the tensions between them, as well as a tool to render such tensions more productive through the suggested development of overarching metanarratives. Despite the recent global wave of climate protests, climate movements and their various narratives have remained understudied among sustainability transition scholars. To address this gap, I aim to contribute to the recentering of movements in transition studies by investigating transformation pathway narratives within the West-European case of the Belgian climate movement. Based on interviews (n = 20) among organizers in Belgian climate movement groups throughout 2019 and 2020, I identify climate justice as an actual existing metanarrative, aimed at bottom-up systemic transformation through interlinking social and ecological struggles. While it has developed in opposition to a ‘mainstream’ metanarrative, I find that in the case studied, climate justice provides an ambiguous but common ground on which more moderate and radical interpretations can engage. Furthermore, I find four more transformation pathway narratives: climate plan, climate emergency, divestment and blockadia and shed light on the discussions within the Belgian climate movement around these narratives. A single unified (meta-)narrative might be impossible as well as undesirable. While spaces for listening and debate can render tensions more productive, creating common ground might still require sharp edges.
... These expectations can have a range of effects Science & Technology Studies XX(X) in the context of R&D, ST&I policies and public engagement. By promising future economic success, they can attract investments from private and public actors (Beckert, 2013). They can serve as epistemic orientation and coordination in heterogeneous innovation networks by pre-selecting design options and synchronizing expectations (Fujimura, 2003). ...
Article
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In a case study approach, the paper traces how technological expectations have been influential in the creation of European institutions, R&D programmes and regulatory instruments and how they have contributed to processes of European integration. The first case study shows how the promises of a coming ‘Atomic Age’ have been mobilized to support the foundation of the European Atomic Energy Community and, thus, contributed to European integration in the post-WW2 era. The second case study analyses how the security stream within the EU’s framework programmes for R&D is shaped by the promise of ‘technosecurity’ and enacts the normative claim of the EU’s security integration in the post-Cold War era. The third case study analyses how the EU’s AI strategy and AI act articulates the vision of a ‘human-centric AI’ and how this vision is related to the EU’s current attempt to restore citizens’ trust in times of crisis.
... Dans ce cadre, de nombreux auteurs lancent un appel à façonner et diffuser de nouveaux imaginaires (Cheney, 2014;Roux-Rosier et al., 2018;Zanoni et al., 2017). Paradoxalement, ce concept d'imaginaire n'est pas développé conceptuellement alors même que la littérature sur le sujet est en expansion, que ce soit en gestion ou dans d'autres disciplines (Bouilloud et al., 2019;Beckert, 2013;Levy & Spicer, 2013;Strauss, 2006). Plus largement, c'est l'idée même d'organisation alternative qui demeure sous-théorisée et renvoi surtout à une réalité empirique floue, définie négativement (car en opposition à un autre concept) par tout ce qui n'est pas sous l'emprise du capital proposent une exception en théorisant les organisations alternatives à partir d'un cadre anarchiste). ...
Thesis
Cette thèse explore la question du travail dans les organisations alternatives et propose de répondre à la problématique suivante : « comment peut s’organiser le travail dans des organisations alternatives en dehors d’une logique capitaliste ? Une telle organisation peut-elle permettre de s’émanciper des formes d’oppression au travail ? » Le manuscrit s’inscrit dans les perspectives émergentes sur les organisations alternatives qui proposent un nouveau projet d’émancipation pour les études critiques en gestion. Nous proposons une approche anti-essentialiste de ces organisations et insistons sur l’enjeu théorique des imaginaires pour accompagner l’émergence des alternatives. Toutefois, nous soulignons l’absence de recherche sur le travail dans ces organisations. Nous mobilisons ici la Labour Process Theory qui a particulièrement étudié la question de l’aliénation au travail en expliquant le contrôle du travail par des dispositifs coercitifs et une fabrique du consentement. Classiquement centrées sur les conflits sociaux dans les usines, nous suivons de récentes perspectives qui appliquent la LPT à de nouvelles organisations. Nous présentons ensuite notre méthode ethnographique de trois ans au sein de la Louve, le premier supermarché coopératif et participatif de France. Les résultats montrent que le travail à la Louve se présente comme la construction permanente d’un équilibre entre contestation et consentement. Les membres de la coopérative s’organisent pour porter un projet contestataire vis-à-vis des acteurs traditionnels de la grande distribution. Un imaginaire commun est activement fabriqué, régulé et stabilisé pour obtenir le consentement des membres au contrôle de leur travail volontaire. Cependant, cette organisation du travail maintient des rapports de pouvoir au sein de la coopérative en séparant les coopérateurs qui contrôlent la politique alimentaire de l’organisation de ceux qui ne font que la mettre en œuvre.
... 86). Similarly, Smart's (1999) work on how central bankers craft a 'monetary policy story' to overcome contradictory signals in macroeconomic data, resonates with Jens Beckert's (2013Beckert's ( , 2016 understanding of how capitalism relies on the forging of 'fictional expectations' to help instil conviction in actors (see also Chong & Tuckett, 2015). To study central bank narratives has become closely associated with attending to the communicative interface between the central bank, public and markets (Braun, 2015(Braun, , 2016Riles & Miyazaki, 2022;Velthuis, 2015), with the research problem being to understand how central banks 'orient and align the ecology of discourses' to render persuasive their 'economic allegories' (Holmes, 2014, p. 110). ...
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While a rich literature has examined how central banks mobilize narratives to enrol publics in monetary policymaking, the effects of the narratives deployed in banking supervision remain neglected. Drawing on 21 expert interviews, this paper fills that lacuna through a study of stress testing, a technique that became a fixture of international banking supervision after the 2008 crisis and which the Bank of England is using to align the risk management of the United Kingdom’s banks with its sense-making about emerging financial stability risks. I theorize the entanglements of the Bank’s financial stability narratives with binding supervisory requirements as giving rise to a new form of ‘infrastructural power’. This perspective explains why some financial sector actors see their decision-making autonomy being sapped away by the Bank’s stress tests even though they work through banks’ own risk sensitive calculative infrastructures. The paper’s findings also point to how the infrastructural affordances of central banks’ forward-looking narratives are pushing the temporal frontier of the state-economy boundary further into the future than has traditionally been considered an appropriate operational domain.
... Given the potential variation of relationships at various interdependent levels between financial markets and economic actors, financialisation studies concur https://doi.org/10.3989/ris.2020.78.4.m20.001 in stressing the unstable and risky nature of financialised capitalism, as long as investment fluctuates in accordance with future expectations of prospective yields (Beckert 2013;Erturk et al. 2008;Keynes 1973). Minsky (1986) highlighted the fact that economic instability is an inherent feature of capitalist market economies, but we also know that speculative activities (Adkins 2018;Konings 2018;Stäheli 2013) and the propensity of embedded actors to behave according to the spontaneous optimism of 'animal spirits', rather than mathematically calculated expectations (Keynes 1973: 161), are contributory factors. ...
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Financialisation is a structural and incomplete process of change in contemporary economies. The growth of the financial system in last few decades has been accompanied by an increasingly complex relationship between socio-economic actors and financial markets. In this paper we analyse the causes and consequences of financialisation regarding: an erosion of the capital-labour relationship; the rise of labour income inequality; and the marketization of daily life and social rights. We review the main conceptualizations of financialisation on various research sites corresponding to the main economic actors, that is: non-financial corporations; the state and individuals; and their complex relationship with financial markets. Our primary objective is to evaluate the contributions and limitations of financialisation studies in these research sites and to identify the main methodological challenges in conceptualising financialisation.
... É desnecessário dizer como a expectativa sobre o estado atual e futuro da economia é uma construção social contínua e compartilhada (Beckert, 2013). Esta percepção influenciou, em conjunto com demais fatores, diretamente o timing do investimento: apesar de gestar sua decisão desde 2008, a empresa optara por localizar sua produção após anúncio do aumento do IPI em setembro de 2011 (Olmos, 2011), aproveitando para se adequar de imediato às novas regras que vieram a regular o setor de maneira mais protecionista (Alerigi Jr., 2012). ...
... From that perspective, we can connect the 'theory' of regional economic resilience with that of fictional expectations discussed in the following section. Although we rely on the Beckert's work on fictional expectations (Beckert, 2013(Beckert, , 2016Beckert & Bronk, 2018), he is certainly not 4 alone in pointing out the role fictional expectations, imaginaries, and narratives play in economic life. A long time ago, the economist Shackle (1979) did, and Nobel Prize winners Akerlof and Shiller have recently analysed how animal spirits and narratives drive major economic events (Akerlof & Shiller, 2009;Shiller, 2019). ...
Article
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a deep crisis in all tourism destinations in the world, and so did the sun-sea-sand tourism city of Antalya. Will it go ‘back to normal’ after the crisis or will the crisis trigger a significant change? Will it show an engineering or ecological resilience in the future on the one hand or an adaptive resilience on the other? Because the future is open, actors in the tourism industry face, like all actors, a radical uncertainty about it. Under these conditions, they can only ground their decisions on so-called fictional expectations. In this paper, we connect the ‘theory’ of resilience with fictional expectations and explore the expectations of tourism entrepreneurs, managers of tourism associations, and government officials in the tourism city of Antalya with a qualitative research approach based on in-depth interviews with leading hoteliers and discourses of tourism leaders in Antalya's tourism. Some expect a return to business as usual, some expect a continuation of changes set in before the crisis as engineering resilience, and others changes triggered by Covid-19 as adaptive resilience. In addition, Covid-19 has intensified collaboration between key actors to strengthen the city’s tourism industry in the future.
... The example of proactive young people suggests that the imaginary representations of the eco-friendly social order can become the basis for real social changes (subject to the relevant efforts and support). Based on socially shared expectations, individuals structure their activity, thereby investing in foreseen 'imagined futures' (Beckert 2013). An important task of social researchers will be to study the vector of these changes and the subsequent dynamics of power in the field. ...
Book
The Ambivalence of Power in the Twenty-First Century Economy contributes to the understanding of the ambivalent nature of power, oscillating between conflict and cooperation, public and private, global and local, formal and informal, and does so from an empirical perspective. It offers a collection of country-based cases, as well as critically assesses the existing conceptions of power from a cross-disciplinary perspective. The diverse analyses of power at the macro, meso or micro levels allow the volume to highlight the complexity of political economy in the twenty-first century. Each chapter addresses key elements of that political economy (from the ambivalence of the cases of former communist countries that do not conform with the grand narratives about democracy and markets, to the dual utility of new technologies such as face-recognition), thus providing mounting evidence for the centrality of an understanding of ambivalence in the analysis of power, especially in the modern state power-driven capitalism. Anchored in economic sociology and political economy, this volume aims to make ‘visible’ the dimensions of power embedded in economic practices. The chapters are predominantly based on post-communist practices, but this divergent experience is relevant to comparative studies of how power and economy are interrelated.
... In Wissenschaft und Forschung kommt Zukunftsprognosen und Erwartungen eine strukturierende Rolle zu (Jasanoff 2015;Jasanoff & Kim 2015). So verknüpft etwa die Forschungsförderung die Produktion von Zukunftspotenzialen mit der Zuweisung von ökonomischem Kapital und anderen Ressourcen (wie Infrastruktur) (Blümel 2018 In der Ökonomie werden Theorien, Prognoseinstrumente und andere Devices (Mackenzie & Millo 2003;MacKenzie et al. 2007) eingesetzt, um zukünftiges Marktgeschehen formal und berechenbar zu machen; aufgrund der hohen Unsicherheiten über zukünftige Entwicklungen dienen sie in erster Linie der Abstimmung der Aktivitäten zwischen wirtschaftlichen und anderen Akteur*innen (Beckert 2013(Beckert , 2016Beckert & Bronk 2018). Dadurch begründen solche Prognosen nicht nur neue Zukunftsperspektiven, sondern schreiben diese auch in organisationale Praktiken und politische Massnahmen ein (Holmes 2018). ...
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Die Datenwissenschaften beschäftigen sich mit der Analyse großer, komplexer Datenmengen und erregen damit im Kontext der Digitalisierung hohe mediale und politische Aufmerksamkeit. Philippe Saner untersucht die Entstehung dieses transversalen Wissensfeldes um Big Data mit einem feldtheoretischen Zugang. Er legt dar, dass es sich um ein feldübergreifendes Netzwerk von Expertisen handelt, das durch unterschiedliche Interessen, Strategien und Machtverhältnisse strukturiert ist. Die Datenwissenschaften eröffnen so einen durchlässigen Raum, der für Akteur*innen aus etablierten Feldern wie Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft, Hochschulbildung und Politik lukrative Möglichkeiten eröffnet.
... Analyzing foreign publications from recent years Beckert, J. [3], Hilty, L. [4], the Center for Global Development [5], Chen, S. [6], Gunawardana, A. [7], Lee, R. [8], Lee, SJ [9], Liu, W. [10], Njos R. [11], Pattin, W. [12], Poly, M. [13], Reichardt, Ch. S. [14], Shani, A. B. [15], and Yoon, D. [16], the authors came to the conclusion that the research technologies used in them are based only on analysis, which does not allow forecasting. In the works of Boyadjiev, Ch. [17], Gungor, A. [18], and Lennert, J. [19], despite the construction of mathematical models, account indicators with different units of measurement were not taken into account. ...
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The article develops the author’s methodology for assessing the rates of socio-economic development and their forecasting in the Russian Federation, which makes it possible to consider factors with heterogeneous metrics. For this, an index analysis of thirty-two indicators divided into seven macro-regional blocks (income, labor, business, ecology, society, prospects, finance) was carried out, integral indicators were calculated that characterize their changes and the pace of socio-economic development of the Russian Federation was determined. Further, using the means of mathematical modeling, a multifactorial mathematical model was built and tested in real-time, which makes it possible to obtain a high-quality predicted result. Based on the forecasts obtained, it can be stated that it is necessary to adjust certain indicators that actively influence the pace of development, which is a mathematical justification for making managerial decisions when developing strategies and programs related to socio-economic progress in the Russian Federation.
... A sostenere questo modello sono le narrative sui potenziali scenari economici prodotti dai guru della Silicon Valley. Storie, teorie e discorsi che orientano l'azione economica degli attori coinvolti nell'ecosistema attraverso le fictional expectation che, creando nessi causali, colmano il divario tra il presente e il possibile futuro successo (Beckert, 2013). Questi immaginari hanno una grande forza performativa e allo stesso tempo modellano la realtà. ...
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Questo lavoro intende contribuire alla discussione critica sulla relazione tra il capitalismo digitale e il modello pandemico di shut-in society. L'obiettivo è di esplorare in che modo la diffusione del virus di Covid-19 e le misure di lock-down hanno prodotto un incontro tra paradigmi economici e sociali che si erano evoluti in relativo isolamento. Il focus dell'analisi si dispiega partendo dall'innovazione improduttiva e dai processi di finanziarizzazione dell'innovazione nell'economia startup. Analizzando i meccanismi che consentono alle big-tech di raggiungere valutazioni record nonostante la scarsa redditività, il lavoro si conclude proponendo di riconfigurare le condizioni entro le quali questo modello prospera per affrontare le sfide del vivere nell'era dell'Antropocene.
... The concept of "present futures", which informs this collection, explicitly or implicitly pervades a wide range of social science scholarship on time and temporality. Examples include contributions from anthropologists (Samimian-Darash 2013; Weszkalnys 2014); historians (Andersson and Rindzevičiūtė 2015;Koselleck 2004); human geographers (Anderson 2010;Evans 2010); and especially sociologists (Adam and Groves 2007;Beckert 2013;Bell and Mau 1971;Luhmann 1976;Mische 2014), and researchers in science and technology studies (STS) (Aykut, Demortain, and Benbouzid 2019;Borup et al. 2006;Jasanoff and Kim 2009). Apart from stressing the contingency of future visions, they all converge on the idea that actors' perceptions of the future can shape present behaviours and experiences in various ways. ...
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This special issue introduction develops the concept of anticipatory global governance by focusing on the practices through which international organisations (IOs) imagine and establish “present futures” across diverse transnational issue areas. Rather than following a conventional chronological stance, the contributors adopt a constructivist perspective on time to detail the logics and effects of anticipatory practices. In this introductory article, we suggest that the analysis of IOs’ anticipatory practices and the resulting present futures can broaden our understanding of global governance in two ways. First, we highlight the implications of how IOs problematise and govern yet-uncertain future transnational issues. Second, we reveal how in this process IOs perform, rather than simply wield, authority by sanctioning a wide range of visions. The special issue develops a general conceptual vocabulary for the study of anticipatory global governance, and provides empirical evidence on how IOs govern by anticipation.
... Similarly Mische (2009) argues that practice theories correctly show that actions are embedded in situated practices and imaginations of the future do not automatically lead to change, but they risk losing out of sight the imaginative, creative and willful in which thought and action are put together in new ways. Especially in times of uncertainty, such reflecting and thinking critically about the future is relevant (Beckert, 2013(Beckert, , 2016Mische, 2014). ...
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The sustainability transformation of the food system involves imagining a sustainable future whilst functioning within the current unsustainable food system. Some argue there is a difference between the goal-oriented and comfort seeking form in which the near future is engaged, and the reflexive, imaginary way in which the distant future is engaged. This begs the question, how is engagement with near and distant futures balanced, and what does this mean for the overall sustainability transformation of the food system? We studied future engagement in practices of food entrepreneurship in the Dutch province of Flevoland during the disruption caused by the covid-19-induced lockdowns. This disruption posed a challenge and an opportunity to study near and distant future engagement in depth. Through an online survey and offline semi-structured interviewing, we questioned practitioners of sustainable food entrepreneurship during the first and second lockdown, respectively. The findings show near future engagement is mostly associated with immediate change in practices enforced by the covid-19 lockdown, whereas distant future engagement primarily was visible in continuous change in practices as associated with sustainability. However, this does not mean near and distant future were perfectly balanced. Therefore, we argue pre-existing trends with regards to sustainability can be accelerated or obstructed when they meet the immediate effects of disruption. Our paper concludes by stating the need for more research to the interaction of near and distant futures in different contexts and circumstances.
... However, imaginations not only allow researchers to semantically describe potential future states of living but also arguably influence current social practices and the development of sociomaterial structures (Adloff and Neckel 2019). They can materialize in innovation design as so-called sociotechnical imaginaries 2 (Jasanoff and Kim 2009;Jasanoff 2015) and are incarnated in economic decisions, ultimately accompanying future expectations (Beckert 2013(Beckert , 2018. ...
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In discourses on sustainability, its underlying conceptualizations and meanings, the role of imaginations and their influence on concrete social practices and mutually dependent sociomaterial structures have been overlooked. Therefore, our article uses Adloff and Neckel’s (2019) conceptual framework to explore the role of imaginations in generating different trajectories from a concrete environmental problem, namely, issues attributed to manure surpluses in Germany, to assess the hurdles and conflicting goals of a transformation toward a sustainable livestock system. Our study builds on qualitative, semistructured, and problem-centered interviews with both new innovation actors and actors in the current system. Our results show that different trajectories of “manure futures” exist, as we identify “preservation”, “modernization” and “transformation” as trajectories representing ideal types of change. We discuss the results in light of the theory of imaginations and reflect on the usefulness of the concept of imaginations for analyzing environmental discourses and practices. Furthermore, we find that normative framings of problems rather than factual knowledge describe contesting imaginations as barriers to a sustainable livestock system, a point that must be acknowledged when developing a sustainable livestock system. We conclude that contesting imaginations could result in conflicts that must be moderated as drivers for change yet could also point to transformations that are already underway.
... As revealed by a growing scholarship, collectively shared images and visions of the future influence political, economic, and technological decisions and developments. Scholarship on the collective imagination, for example, shows how "collectively shared, institutionally stabilised, and publicly performed visions of desired futures" animate future-oriented policy and technology development (Jasanoff and Kim, 2015, p. 4) and how 'fictional expectations' enable actors to make decisions under uncertainty based on the shared assumptions about some future state (Beckert, 2013(Beckert, , 2016. ...
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Some of the most influential explorations of low-carbon transformations are conducted with Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). The recent attempts by the IPCC to look for pathways compatible with the 1.5 °C and 2 °C temperature goals are a case in point. Earlier scholarship indicates that model-based pathways are persuasive in bringing specific possible future alternatives into view and guiding policymaking. However, the process through which these shared imaginations of possible futures come about is not yet well understood. By closely examining the science-policy dynamics around the IPCC SR1.5, we observe a sequence of mutually legitimising interactions between modelling and policy making through which the 1.5 °C goal gradually gained traction in global climate politics. Our findings reveal a practice of ‘political calibration’, a continuous relational readjustment between modelling and the policy community. This political calibration is indicative of how modellers navigate climate politics to maintain policy relevance. However, this navigation also brings key dilemmas for modellers, between 1) requirements of the policy process and experts’ conviction of realism; 2) perceived political sensitivities and widening the range of mitigation options; and 3) circulating crisp storylines and avoiding policy-prescriptiveness. Overall, these findings call into question the political neutrality of IAMs in its current position in the science-policy interface and suggest a future orientation in which modellers aim to develop additional relations with a broader set of publics resulting in more diverse perspectives on plausible and desirable futures.
... In other words, it is imperative for those advocating such a future that these appear as actually possible futures and the courses of action derived from them be viewed as legitimate. In producing plausibility and legitimacy, narratives and stories play a crucial role (Gadinger et al., 2014Beckert, 2013Beckert & Bronk, 2018). ...
... In other words, it is imperative for those advocating such a future that these appear as actually possible futures and the courses of action derived from them be viewed as legitimate. In producing plausibility and legitimacy, narratives and stories play a crucial role (Gadinger et al., 2014Beckert, 2013Beckert & Bronk, 2018). ...
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The introductory chapter starts by referring to three topical examples of transformations in higher education that can be observed from a geopolitical perspective and, thus, provide a thematic entry point for the theme of the Volume: how at various levels – supranational, national, local, but also at the level of the firms or individuals – a premium has been placed on knowledge and knowledge generation activities and have been made centerpiece in imaginations of the future, in social, political and economic terms. Innovation, science capacity and education – representing the main missions of Higher Education – thus are reckoned key to succeeding in global economic competition. The Introduction discusses a geopolitical perspective on the transformations in higher education adopted in the chapters collected in this book, also relating the topic to adjacent debates in higher education research. Finally, the introduction provides a brief overview over the chapters of the book.
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The Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) have evoked optimism but have also been criticized for reproducing a universal template grounded in a western and neoliberal ideology. Identifying three strands of responses/critiques on the SDGs from a review of literature across several disciplines, I analyze what they have to say in the light of histories of past development work. I analyze how universalism is understood differently in different disciplinary approaches and how, despite its limitations, Agenda 2030 might provide a platform to meet current challenges across the world and a framework to talk across different geographies and disciplines. While a delinking from current development and global economic structures are needed for change, I explore how the SDGs can be used to redeploy development to change those very structures. I argue that decolonizing development calls for changing development structures from inside out as much as finding new ways of being outside it.
Article
Several images of the future of food emerge as a response to the need to make the food system more sustainable. Yet so far, the discursive process through which these images manifest is mostly studied from a policy perspective. This paper explores how food entrepreneurship discursively constructs futures for food. A critical discourse analysis was conducted of 102 websites of food entrepreneurs in the Dutch province of Flevoland. The analysis shows entrepreneurship constructs two complementary futures: closed and open futures. Whereas closed futures convey a sense of accomplishment in terms of the sustainability transformation of the food system, open futures display a future for sustainable food that is evolving and incremental. Together, these futures form a continuum with closed futures on the one side that describe specific missions that are attainable, and open futures on the other side to create new or different missions over time. In the discussion, it is argued these mutually constitutive futures contrast the mutually exclusive futures as often dominate the contested debate about food. Furthermore, it argues complementary futures fit the context of food entrepreneurship in Flevoland, because it shows the importance of collaboration within and between firms in working towards more sustainable food systems.
Article
Geographers and historians have contributed to a well-established literature on how places become repositories of inherited meanings and contested memories. Much less attention has been afforded to space and place as future-making resources. In this article, we consider how extant places feature in the imagination, planning and development of ex novo cities. Focusing on three new administrative capitals in Southeast Asia – Putrajaya (in Malaysia), Naypyidaw (in Myanmar) and Nusantara (in Indonesia) – we show how places have been mobilized as points of persuasion, or what sociologist Thomas Gieryn has termed “truth spots”. Drawing and building upon Gieryn’s work, we identify three heuristic types of truth spots: aspirational truth spots that demonstrate progressive developmental possibilities for emulation; antithetical truth spots signaling past failures to avoid in planning and developing the future city; and anticipatory truth spots that articulate future expectations, justifying forms of (in)action in the present. While existing work on truth spots emphasizes powers of persuasion associated with physical, in-person experiences of place, our emphasis and contribution centres on the narrative mobilization of place references.
Article
Entrepreneurial imagination is core to the entrepreneurial process but hard to study in the present. Methodologically, historians have the advantage of reconstructing entrepreneurs’ future thinking in their time. However, traditional historical methodology offers only limited tools to analyse and interpret uncertainty in historical future-oriented sources. In this paper, we suggest that Construal Level Theory (CLT), a theory in social-cognitive psychology, represents a complementary resource to deal with uncertainty and analyse the role of entrepreneurial imagination in evaluating and selecting business opportunities. We elaborate on four manifestations of abstraction suggested by CLT: desirability vs. feasibility, primary vs. secondary aspects, words vs. pictorial representations, and small vs. large categories. We further explain how insights from CLT can raise important questions for source analysis and facilitate comparisons, and then demonstrate it by investigating Thomas Edison’s ego-documents. We conclude by sketching a future interdisciplinary dialogue with entrepreneurship scholars and psychologists.
Article
Since the introduction of covid-19 vaccines, Green Pass programs have emerged as a central pillar of anti-covid-19 policies in numerous countries. But, what type of legitimation for vaccination policies do states promote through Green Pass programs. I rely on Jens Beckert’s concept of promissory legitimacy which refers to the legitimation of current political decisions through promises regarding future outcomes. Yet, I propose an original development according to which a distinctive dimension of promissory legitimacy consists of tangible promises, i.e. promises about the daily lives of social subjects to which promissory legitimacy is directed – their activities, wants, social status, social interactions, possessions etc. I argue that Green Passes constitute an effort by states to legitimate their covid-19 vaccination policies through promises that vaccination will allow persons as individuals to improve their gratification, i.e. become personally better off or improve their daily life in material terms, typically by consuming services and goods.
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The continuing unsustainable pattern of human behavior creates enormous risks of increasingly frequent and severe disasters impacting the complex social-ecological-economic-technical system (SES) in which all life on Earth is embedded. This chapter outlines key concepts of complex systems as the foundation for understanding resilience, sustainability, and acute or chronic disruptive stressors of the SES. The relationship between resilience and sustainability has the potential for synergies or tradeoffs, depending on normative judgements particular to the cultures and contexts in which the risks may manifest. Important insights into the normative landscape in co-located or online communities can be gained by collecting and analyzing their narratives of imagined futures and social identities, which is one of the key research areas of the international Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change Alliance (KLASICA).
Article
An asset is both a resource and property, in that it generates income streams with its sale price based on the capitalization of those revenues. Although an asset's income streams can be financially sliced up, aggregated, and speculated upon across highly diverse geographies, there still has to be something underpinning these financial operations. Something has to generate the income that a political economic actor can lay claim to through a property or other right, entailing a process of enclosure, rent extraction, property formation, and capitalization. Geographers and other social scientists are producing a growing literature illustrating the range of new (and old) asset classes created by capitalists in their search for revenue streams, for which we argue assetization is a necessary concept to focus on the moment of enclosure and rent extraction. It is a pressing task for human geographers to unpack the diverse and contingent ‘asset geographies’ entailed in this assetization process. As a middle range concept and empirical problematic, we argue that assetization is an important focal point for wider debates in human geography by focusing attention on the moment of enclosure, rent extraction, and material remaking of society which the making of a financial asset implies.
Article
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a world-changing technology due to its abilities to learn independently, process big data, and automate human work. Imagining the socio-technical future is necessary, but challenging, in the era of AI that rapidly developing technology has made turbulent. In this study, we addressed the need to understand the ways AI practitioners actualise their AI-related futures imaginaries at the grassroots level and in the present. Our empirical case study concerned Finland and Singapore, focussing on their AI strategies based on interviews with 26 AI practitioners. We created a new conceptual perspective by integrating three concepts: futures imaginaries, expectations, and anticipatory practices. We showed that imagining socio-technical futures is an ongoing process in which AI practitioners repeatedly co-constitute the future in ‘the now’. These practitioners interpret futures imaginaries as expectations and address AI-related challenges via anticipatory practices. Whereas some AI practitioners ‘ride the wave’ of the AI hype, others are proactive and critically active in developing and educating people on AI. AI practitioners hold significant anticipatory agency that is actualised in the anticipatory zone.
Article
In 1991, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, announced Vision 2020 to make the country ‘fully developed’ by that year. Launched during a period of rapid economic growth, Vision 2020 legitimized Mahathir's developmental penchant for spectacular urban megaprojects and ambitious technological experimentation. While hopes of reaching Vision 2020's crude GDP targets were dashed even before the end of the 1990s (largely as a result of the Asian financial crisis), and Mahathir stepped down from office in 2003, the year 2020 retained significance as a horizon of expectation for a generation of Malaysians. In this Interventions essay I look back at three decades of Vision 2020 from the temporal vantage point of 2020. The lead‐up to that year saw political, popular and artistic retrospection on Vision 2020, spurred in part by nonagenarian Mahathir's return to power. Contextually, ‘Where is the future?’ articulates unrealized technological and developmental expectations from peak Vision 2020. Conceptually, the essay offers a critical geography of political futures past—demonstrating the constitutive spatiality of future expectations and the diverse ways in which elite developmental visions are engaged in life geographies, spaces of experience and representational practices.
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This article sets out a methodology for integrating a focus on the student voice in deliberations about the future of teaching and learning in the Arts and Humanities. Qualitative data gleaned from JISC’s 20/21 Student Digital Experience Insights Survey and feedback collected from students studying on undergraduate programmes in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom (UK) is used to sketch out pedagogical imaginaries of the future that can be used heuristically by universities as they work their way through the pandemic and out the other side. The imaginaries, it argues, act as tools to kickstart debates, underpin experimentation and inform pedagogical planning and design. To address questions of credibility and plausibility, the imaginaries are rooted in the present, embody empirical trends and are consistent with practices, structures and technologies that have come to prominence during the pandemic.
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As working conditions change worldwide, employment precarity is increasing, including for groups for whom such conditions are unexpected. This study investigates how members of one such group—educationally advantaged young adults—describe their professional futures in a context of unprecedented employment precarity where their expected trajectories are no longer easily achievable. Using 75 interviews with young university graduates in Madrid, Spain, I find that most young graduates drew on a long-standing cultural narrative, which I call the “achievement narrative,” to imagine future stable employment. Simultaneously, most denounced this narrative as fraudulent. To explain this finding, I draw on the concept of hysteresis: the mismatch between beliefs that are dependent on the past conditions that produced them and the available opportunities in the present. I argue that hysteresis can extend into future projections; projected futures can be guided by beliefs based on past conditions more than by lived experiences in the present. Further, I argue that the achievement narrative itself reinforces hysteresis in future projections due to its resonance and institutional support. The paper offers new insights into projected futures and employment precarity by analyzing the future projections of a privileged cohort facing unexpected precarity, further develops the concept of hysteresis, and extends the study of cultural narratives.
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Social studies of expectations are premised on the notion that the future is brought into the present, and thereby expectations about the future come to shape our actions, decisions, and practices in ways that performatively bring about the imagined future. In this article, I examine how social actors themselves understand, construct, and deploy future expectations in innovation financing, focusing specifically on the venture capital industry financing of the life sciences sector. I do so to analyse how these reflexive efforts configure the valuation and investment decisions of these social actors and others. I build on analytical perspectives in STS and adjacent fields such as organization studies and economic sociology that analyse the role of expectations – manifested as stories, narratives, and accounts – in social action. To do so, I unpack how reflexivity comes to configure valuation and investment decisions, and the goals (e.g. exits) they rationalize.
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This article explores young people’s consumption of credit and the role of credit and debt in the distinction between youth and adulthood. The article engages with recent shifts in the nature of credit that have turned credit into an object of consumption in itself, as well as broader arguments about the financialisation of daily life, in order to understand the temporalities and moral distinctions enacted in different forms of credit and debt among youth. While it is well recognised that financialised capitalism operates and creates value from differences including gender, racialisation and class, the formation of youth subjectivities through credit and debt technologies remains unexplored in the literature despite an emerging crisis of consumer credit among young people. With this in mind, this article draws on a qualitative study of youth, credit and debt, to show that young people experience debt within contradictory temporalities and calculative logics, including the long-term ‘investments’ required to become an adult, and the logic of consumption attached to consumer credit which positions credit as a failure of self-responsible adulthood because it places future creditworthiness in jeopardy. In this way, the article suggests a future research agenda on the way that biographical distinctions are enacted through credit and debt, and how notions of youth and adulthood contribute to the qualification and consumption of credit.
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Making the profound societal transitions and transformations called for in the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 (UN, 2019) and beyond is a critical and urgent challenge for humanity. We propose that the collection and analysis of digital narratives (DNs) to observe and assess significant concerns about sustainability and resilience (e.g., as reflected by social movements and interests). Observing temporal changes, globally, in the frequency, sources, and content of DNs can illuminate emerging trends in perceptions, attitudes, norms, hopes or fears of individuals and groups. Of particular interest are movements towards acceptance of, or resistance to, locally adaptive pathways to sustainable futures. We propose forming a Digital Observatory of Narratives of Sustainability (DONS) as a collaborative platform with associated open-source tools for analyzing and representing the societal landscape and its dynamics, thereby providing data to help model future societal trajectories and develop approaches to cope with systemic risks. The DONS opens a rich field for inter- and trans-disciplinary research on sustainability through narratives and their dynamics in different contexts and cultures.
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People within the cryptocurrency world come together on imageboards and forums to tell stories about the highly volatile and uncertain world they inhabit. Although they engage with a highly technical digital money form, the stories they share online could be more productively analysed as digital folklore. Through ethnography primarily conducted via 4chan and Reddit, I highlight three types of stories, loosely grouped together within the categories of ‘despair’, ‘comedy’ and ‘courage’. Drawing parallels to folk and fairy tales, I explore how ‘netizens’ use these stories to engage with the uncertainty that characterizes cryptocurrencies. Consequently, I highlight how stories come to make the online cryptocurrency world more inhabitable, as well as allowing people to subvert and resist ‘economic reason’. By foregrounding storytelling, I highlight the fluid, intersubjective and collective actions that help to sustain a volatile and uncertain market that is favourable for those who take to online message boards.
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Global human mobility constitutes a key mechanism for knowledge transfer. This study examines the micro‐dynamics of knowledge transfer in the developed‐developing country migratory context. It highlights the agentic role of return migrants in transforming overseas learning into relevant knowledge in their home contexts. Drawing on situated and relational theories of knowledge and learning, the study views knowledge transfer as a relevance discovery process. It looks at a group of highly skilled migrants who had returned from developed countries to Ethiopia. Despite their high skill, the focus of knowledge transfer was mostly in non‐technical fields that include a broad range of organizational knowledge and work practices. These were made relevant to the local context through the returnees’ ‘work of reconciliation’, involving ‘engagement’, ‘alignment’ and ‘imagination’. The study challenges the standard assumption of a one‐way linear flow of knowledge from developed to developing countries. It sheds new light on the migration‐development link by highlighting the ‘aspirational’ aspect of migrant transnational learning.
Article
Through their assortment and merchandising decision-making retailers influence consumers choice by adjusting the choices available to them. Anchored in a market practice view, this article studies the role retailers play in shaping markets through their assortment building efforts. It demonstrates that retailers are not just reacting to changes in consumer demand but are becoming more proactive and actively try to change consumer demand in certain ways as retailers strive to be good corporate citizens. We show that trying to change how markets function is fraught with difficulties, as actors in the value chain must coordinate their expectations about what the market will look like in future.
Article
Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenges that human civilization now faces. To a large extent, attempts at mitigating or addressing climate change are performed by Changemaker ventures: small scale, entrepreneurial ventures that attempt to combine market orientation with social or ecological value-creation. The Changemaker phenomenon is particularly prevalent in the new food economy, where it is driving a fundamental restructuring of rural economies in Europe as well as in Asia and the Americas. But how do market oriented entrepreneurial ventures respond to climate change? Based on six years of interviews and participant observation with Italian rural Changemakers this article suggests that in the absence of collective organization, the Changemaker response to climate change is market by a paralysing perplexity, similar to that of resource-poorer peasants in the South. Without a strong forms of collective solidarity and deliberation the experience of climate change cannot be incorporated within a coherent view of the future. The results can be understood as a ‘weak signal’ that has implications for the study of peasant responses to climate change as well as for theoretical reflexions on the viability of changemaker-style social enterprises in promoting coherent strategies for survival in the Anthropocene.
Article
Young men from disadvantaged contexts are the least likely to attend university in Australia; furthermore, when they do attend, they are likely to struggle. This article draws on empirical data documenting the aspirations and resilience of first-in-family young men in Australian higher education, with the aim of nuancing their classed experience of university. Drawing on an exploratory longitudinal study (n = 42) and adopting a mixed method approach, we use the 25-item Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) and semi-structured interviews over a three-year period to explore changes in resilience of first-in-family men from the age of 17 to 20. The mixed-method approach employed in this study allows us to draw connections between the participants’ subjective experience of resilience and the more objective measures of resilience as captured by the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, a psychometrically sound and validated instrument. Quantitative analyses of data enable us to document the trends in resilience over time for different groups of first-in-family men, while qualitative data provide insights structured around three key themes: independence and isolation; managing and adjusting; and using support structures. The article draws on analysis across these data to consider the participants’ perceptions of their resilience, and how these perceptions change in reference to their experience, in order to paint a more nuanced picture of first-in-family men’s classed experience of higher education.
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This book retells the history of Western industrialization, revealing possibilities unexplored in the nineteenth century, variants of which have come to transform present day economies. It shows that economic actors have historically been more aware of the great strategic choices they faced than standard theory credits them with being, and this surprising acuity allows them to imagine and put into practice solutions which current theories of industrial organization have scarcely anticipated. The book is therefore at one and the same time a contribution to a substantive revision of the history of mechanized production and a propaedeutic in a form of explanation that approximates the knowledge of the actor to the knowledge of the theorist. The volume groups essays presented by a multinational team of historians and social scientists drawing on intensive primary research on a wide range of firms, regions, sectors and national economies in Western Europe and the United States from the eighteenth century to the 1990s.
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This chapter tackles the core vocabulary of economics: if there is to be an expanded economics, it would need a more complex vocabulary or discourse. This would also mean giving up one of the sacred cows of the discipline: the preference for parsimony—simple explanations of more complicated phenomena—so simple they can be more easily tested under conditions of the intellectual's making. Doing this might allow economists to admit otherwise forbidden topics for analysis—like love, avarice, and jealousy. Hirschman anticipates, in this sense, the importance of bridging the divide between emotions and behavior. To conclude, the chapter examines whether the various complications have some element in common.
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'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.
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This book was originally published by Macmillan in 1936. It was voted the top Academic Book that Shaped Modern Britain by Academic Book Week (UK) in 2017, and in 2011 was placed on Time Magazine's top 100 non-fiction books written in English since 1923. Reissued with a fresh Introduction by the Nobel-prize winner Paul Krugman and a new Afterword by Keynes’ biographer Robert Skidelsky, this important work is made available to a new generation. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money transformed economics and changed the face of modern macroeconomics. Keynes’ argument is based on the idea that the level of employment is not determined by the price of labour, but by the spending of money. It gave way to an entirely new approach where employment, inflation and the market economy are concerned. Highly provocative at its time of publication, this book and Keynes’ theories continue to remain the subject of much support and praise, criticism and debate. Economists at any stage in their career will enjoy revisiting this treatise and observing the relevance of Keynes’ work in today’s contemporary climate.
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Rhetoric is the study and practice of persuasive expression, an alternative since the Greeks to the philosophical programme of epistemology. The rhetoric of economics examines how economists persuade – not how they say they do, or how their official methodologies say they do, but how in fact they persuade colleagues and politicians and students to accept one economic assertion and reject another.
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Fear and greed are terms that make light of the uncertainty in the finance world. Huge global financial institutions rely on emotional relations of trust and distrust to suppress the uncertainties. Many financial firms develop policies towards risk, rather than accepting the reality of an uncertain future. They amass data in the futile hope of gaining certainty and to claim their options are more risk-freea than competitors. Emotions in Finance examines the views of experienced elites in the international financial world. It argues the current financial era is driven by a utopianism a hope--that the future can be collapsed into the present. It points out policy implications of this short-term view at the unstable peak of global finance. This book provides a timely account of the influence of emotion and speculation on the worldas increasingly volatile financial sector. The author includes absorbing interview material from public and private bankers in the United States, UK and Australia. © Jocelyn Pixley 2004 and M. E. Sharpe Inc. for reproduction of p. 69.
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What counts? In work, as in other areas of life, it is not always clear what standards we are being judged by or how our worth is being determined. This can be disorienting and disconcerting. Because of this, many organizations devote considerable resources to limiting and clarifying the logics used for evaluating worth. But as David Stark argues, firms would often be better off, especially in managing change, if they allowed multiple logics of worth and did not necessarily discourage uncertainty. In fact, in many cases multiple orders of worth are unavoidable, so organizations and firms should learn to harness the benefits of such "heterarchy" rather than seeking to purge it. Stark makes this argument with ethnographic case studies of three companies attempting to cope with rapid change: a machine-tool company in late and postcommunist Hungary, a new-media startup in New York during and after the collapse of the Internet bubble, and a Wall Street investment bank whose trading room was destroyed on 9/11. In each case, the friction of competing criteria of worth promoted an organizational reflexivity that made it easier for the company to change and deal with market uncertainty. Drawing on John Dewey's notion that "perplexing situations" provide opportunities for innovative inquiry, Stark argues that the dissonance of diverse principles can lead to discovery.
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Across all varieties of meanings that reach from ‘mental imaginery,’ ‘invention of the mind,’ to ‘fantasy,’ ‘illusion,’ and ‘chimera,’ there is a common reference of the term ‘imagination’ to the human ability to form—more or less intentionally—images of phenomena, may these be absent or present. From the classical tradition to Kant, Hegel, and romanticism, this faculty of mental imagery has been given central place in philosophical discourse with regard to knowledge, concept-formation and language, memory, and aesthetics. It is demonstrated not only that the history of epistemology offers different answers to the question which role and significance images have in the process of cognition, but also that knowledge has been linked persistently to image and memory. Even though the concept of imagination appears no longer to hold a central place in aesthetics, it has remained vibrant as a liberating power that restores human freedom against technology and reification—such as in Herbert Marcuse or Cornelius Castoriadis. Imagination becomes a category that thinks freedom in aesthetic categories and demands the liberation of fantasy through political praxis.
Article
Beyond the Market launches a sociological investigation into economic efficiency. Prevailing economic theory, which explains efficiency using formalized rational choice models, often simplifies human behavior to the point of distortion. Jens Beckert finds such theory to be particularly weak in explaining such crucial forms of economic behavior as cooperation, innovation, and action under conditions of uncertainty--phenomena he identifies as the proper starting point for a sociology of economic action. Beckert levels an enlightened critique at neoclassical economics, arguing that understanding efficiency requires looking well beyond the market to the social, cultural, political, and cognitive factors that influence the coordination of economic action. Beckert searches social theory for the components of an alternative theory of action, one that accounts for the social embedding of economic behavior. In Durkheim and Parsons he finds especially useful approaches to cooperation; in Luhmann, a way to understand how people act under highly contingent conditions; and in Giddens, an understanding of creative action and innovation. Together, these provide building blocks for a research program that will yield a theoretically sophisticated understanding of how economic processes are coordinated and the ways that markets are embedded in social, cultural, and cognitive structures. Containing one of the most fully informed critiques of the neoclassical analysis of economic efficiency--as well as one of the most thoughtful blueprints for economic sociology--this book reclaims for sociology the study of one of the most important arenas of human action.
Article
The paper analyses the causes of the current crisis of the global financial system, with particular emphasis on the systemic elements that turned the crisis of subprime mortgage-backed securities in the United States, a small part of the overall system, into a worldwide crisis. The first half of the paper explains the role of mortgage securitization as a mechanism for allocating risks from real estate investments and discusses what has gone wrong and why in the implementation of this mechanism in the United States. The second half of the paper discusses the incidence of systemic risk in the crisis. Two elements of systemic risk are identified. First, there was excessive maturity transformation through conduits and structured-investment vehicles (SIVs); when this broke down in August 2007, the overhang of asset-backed securities that had been held by these vehicles put significant additional downward pressure on securities prices. Second, as the financial system adjusted to the recognition of delinquencies and defaults in US mortgages and to the breakdown of maturity transformation of conduits and SIVs, the interplay of market malfunctioning or even breakdown, fair value accounting and the insufficiency of equity capital at financial institutions, and, finally, systemic effects of prudential regulation created a detrimental downward spiral in the overall financial system. The paper argues that these developments have not only been caused by identifiably faulty decisions, but also by flaws in financial system architecture. In thinking about regulatory reform, one must therefore go beyond considerations of individual incentives and supervision and pay attention to issues of systemic interdependence and transparency.
Book
This book is about how we see and how we visualize. But it is equally about how we are easily misled by our everyday experiences of these faculties. Galileo is said to have proclaimed (Galilei, 1610/1983; quoted in Slezak, submitted), "dots if men had been born blind, philosophy would be more perfect, because it would lack many false assumptions that have been taken from the sense of sight." Many deep puzzles arise when we try to understand the nature of visual perception, visual imagery or visual thinking. As we try to formulate scientific questions about these human capacities we immediately find ourselves being entranced by the view from within. This view, which the linguist Kenneth Pike (Pike, 1967) has referred to as the emic perspective (as opposed to the external or etic perspective), is both essential and perilous. As scientists we cannot ignore the contents of our conscious experience because this is one of the principle ways of knowing what we see and what our thoughts are about. On the other hand, the contents of our conscious experience are also insidious because they lead us to believe that we can see directly into our own minds and observe the causes of our cognitive processes. Such traps are nothing new; psychology is used to being torn by the duality of mental life --- its subjective and its objective (causal) side. Since people first began to think about the nature of mental states, such as thinking, seeing and imagining, they have had to contend with the fact that knowing how these achievements appear to us on the inside often does us little good, and indeed often leads us in entirely the wrong direction, when we seek a scientific explanation. Of course we have the option of putting aside the quest for a scientific explanation and set our goal towards finding a satisfying description in terms that are consonant with how seeing and imagining appear to us. This might be called a phenomenological approach to understanding the workings of the mind or the everyday folk understanding of vision. There is nothing wrong with such a pursuit. Much popular psychology revels in it, as do a number of different schools of philosophical inquiry (e.g., ordinary language philosophy, phenomenological philosophy). Yet in the long term few of us would be satisfied with an analysis or a natural history of phenomenological regularities. One reason is that characterizing the systematic properties of how things seem to us does not allow us to connect with the natural sciences, to approach the goal of unifying psychology with biology, chemistry and physics. It does not help us to answer the how and why questions; How does vision work? Or, Why do things look the way they do? Or, What happens when we think visually? The problem with trying to understand vision and visual imagery is that on the one hand these phenomena are intimately familiar to us from the inside so it is difficult to objectify them, even though the processes involved are also too fast and too ephemeral to be observed introspectively. On the other hand, what we do observe is misleading because it is always the world as it appears to us that we see, not the real work that is being done by the mind in going from the proximal stimuli, generally optical patterns on the retina, to the familiar experience of seeing (or imagining) the world. The question, How do we see appears very nearly nonsensical: Why, we see by just looking, and the reason that things look as they do to us is that this is the way that they actually are. It is only by objectifying the phenomena, by "making them strange" that we can turn the question into puzzle that can be studied scientifically. One good way to turn the mysteries of vision and imagery into a puzzle is to ask what it would take for a computer to see or imagine. But this is not the only way and indeed this way is often itself laden with our preconceptions, as I will try to show throughout this book. The title of this book is meant to be ambiguous. It means both that seeing and visualizing are different from thinking (and from each other), and that our intuitive views about seeing and visualizing rest largely on a grand illusion. The message of this book is that seeing is different from thinking and to see is not, as it often seems to us, to create an inner replica of the world we are observing or thinking about or visualizing. But this is a long and not always an intuitively compelling story. In fact, its counterintuitive nature is one reason it may be worth telling. When things seem clearly a certain way it is often because we are subject to a general shared illusion. To stand outside this illusion requires a certain act of will and an open-minded and determined look at the evidence. Few people are equipped to do this, and I am not deluded enough to believe that I am the only one who can. But some things about vision and mental imagery are by now clear enough that only deeply ingrained prejudices keep them from being the received view. It is these facts, which seem to me (if not to others) to be totally persuasive, that I concern myself with in this book. If any of the claims appear radical it is not because they represent a leap into the dark caverns of speculative idealism, but only that some ways of looking at the world are just too comfortable and too hard to dismiss. Consequently what might be a straightforward story about how we see, becomes a long journey into the data and theory developed over the past 30 years, as well into the conceptual issues that surround them.
Article
This book is about how we see and how we visualize. But it is equally about how we are easily misled by our everyday experiences of these faculties. Galileo is said to have proclaimed (Galilei, 1610/1983; quoted in Slezak, submitted), "dots if men had been born blind, philosophy would be more perfect, because it would lack many false assumptions that have been taken from the sense of sight." Many deep puzzles arise when we try to understand the nature of visual perception, visual imagery or visual thinking. As we try to formulate scientific questions about these human capacities we immediately find ourselves being entranced by the view from within. This view, which the linguist Kenneth Pike (Pike, 1967) has referred to as the emic perspective (as opposed to the external or etic perspective), is both essential and perilous. As scientists we cannot ignore the contents of our conscious experience because this is one of the principle ways of knowing what we see and what our thoughts are about. On the other hand, the contents of our conscious experience are also insidious because they lead us to believe that we can see directly into our own minds and observe the causes of our cognitive processes. Such traps are nothing new; psychology is used to being torn by the duality of mental life --- its subjective and its objective (causal) side. Since people first began to think about the nature of mental states, such as thinking, seeing and imagining, they have had to contend with the fact that knowing how these achievements appear to us on the inside often does us little good, and indeed often leads us in entirely the wrong direction, when we seek a scientific explanation. Of course we have the option of putting aside the quest for a scientific explanation and set our goal towards finding a satisfying description in terms that are consonant with how seeing and imagining appear to us. This might be called a phenomenological approach to understanding the workings of the mind or the everyday folk understanding of vision. There is nothing wrong with such a pursuit. Much popular psychology revels in it, as do a number of different schools of philosophical inquiry (e.g., ordinary language philosophy, phenomenological philosophy). Yet in the long term few of us would be satisfied with an analysis or a natural history of phenomenological regularities. One reason is that characterizing the systematic properties of how things seem to us does not allow us to connect with the natural sciences, to approach the goal of unifying psychology with biology, chemistry and physics. It does not help us to answer the how and why questions; How does vision work? Or, Why do things look the way they do? Or, What happens when we think visually? The problem with trying to understand vision and visual imagery is that on the one hand these phenomena are intimately familiar to us from the inside so it is difficult to objectify them, even though the processes involved are also too fast and too ephemeral to be observed introspectively. On the other hand, what we do observe is misleading because it is always the world as it appears to us that we see, not the real work that is being done by the mind in going from the proximal stimuli, generally optical patterns on the retina, to the familiar experience of seeing (or imagining) the world. The question, How do we see appears very nearly nonsensical: Why, we see by just looking, and the reason that things look as they do to us is that this is the way that they actually are. It is only by objectifying the phenomena, by "making them strange" that we can turn the question into puzzle that can be studied scientifically. One good way to turn the mysteries of vision and imagery into a puzzle is to ask what it would take for a computer to see or imagine. But this is not the only way and indeed this way is often itself laden with our preconceptions, as I will try to show throughout this book. The title of this book is meant to be ambiguous. It means both that seeing and visualizing are different from thinking (and from each other), and that our intuitive views about seeing and visualizing rest largely on a grand illusion. The message of this book is that seeing is different from thinking and to see is not, as it often seems to us, to create an inner replica of the world we are observing or thinking about or visualizing. But this is a long and not always an intuitively compelling story. In fact, its counterintuitive nature is one reason it may be worth telling. When things seem clearly a certain way it is often because we are subject to a general shared illusion. To stand outside this illusion requires a certain act of will and an open-minded and determined look at the evidence. Few people are equipped to do this, and I am not deluded enough to believe that I am the only one who can. But some things about vision and mental imagery are by now clear enough that only deeply ingrained prejudices keep them from being the received view. It is these facts, which seem to me (if not to others) to be totally persuasive, that I concern myself with in this book. If any of the claims appear radical it is not because they represent a leap into the dark caverns of speculative idealism, but only that some ways of looking at the world are just too comfortable and too hard to dismiss. Consequently what might be a straightforward story about how we see, becomes a long journey into the data and theory developed over the past 30 years, as well into the conceptual issues that surround them.
Book
The global financial crisis has made it painfully clear that powerful psychological forces are imperiling the wealth of nations today. From blind faith in ever-rising housing prices to plummeting confidence in capital markets, "animal spirits" are driving financial events worldwide. In this book, acclaimed economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller challenge the economic wisdom that got us into this mess, and put forward a bold new vision that will transform economics and restore prosperity. Akerlof and Shiller reassert the necessity of an active government role in economic policymaking by recovering the idea of animal spirits, a term John Maynard Keynes used to describe the gloom and despondence that led to the Great Depression and the changing psychology that accompanied recovery. Like Keynes, Akerlof and Shiller know that managing these animal spirits requires the steady hand of government--simply allowing markets to work won't do it. In rebuilding the case for a more robust, behaviorally informed Keynesianism, they detail the most pervasive effects of animal spirits in contemporary economic life--such as confidence, fear, bad faith, corruption, a concern for fairness, and the stories we tell ourselves about our economic fortunes--and show how Reaganomics, Thatcherism, and the rational expectations revolution failed to account for them.
Article
In order to explain fairly simply how expectations are formed, we advance the hypothesis that they are essentially the same as the predictions of the relevant economic theory. In particular, the hypothesis asserts that the economy generally does not waste information, and that expectations depend specifically on the structure of the entire system. Methods of analysis, which are appropriate under special conditions, are described in the context of an isolated market with a fixed production lag. The interpretative value of the hypothesis is illustrated by introducing commodity speculation into the system.
Book
Introduction. The embeddedness of economic markets in economics / Michel Callon -- The proliferation of social currencies / Viviana A. Zelizer -- Markets as cultures : an ethnographic approach / Mitchel Y. Abolafia -- Efficiency, culture, and politics : the transformation of Japanese management in 1946-1966 / Bai Gao -- Recombinant property in East European capitalism / David Stark -- The making of an industry : electricity in the United States / textlessspan class="searchword"textgreaterMarktextless/spantextgreater textlessspan class="searchword"textgreaterGranovettertextless/spantextgreater and Patrick McGuire -- The margins of accounting / Peter Miller -- Another discipline for the market economy : marketing as a performative knowledge and know-how for capitalism / Franck Cochoy -- The unlikely encounter between economics and a market : the case of the cement industry / Hervé Dumez and Alain Jeunemaître -- An essay on framing and overflowing : economic externalities revisited by sociology / Michel Callon.
Article
It is my pleasure to present the fifth guest editorial of the 2000-2001 school-year. This editorial is contributed by Professor Frank Dobbin, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. Professor Dobbin is the author of Forging Industrial Policy: The United States, Britain and France in the Railway Age (1994). Recent articles by Professor Dobbin chart the effects of antitrust policy on business strategy and the effects of equal opportunity law on personnel management.
Article
This essay offers an ethnographically grounded critique of and an alternative to science-studies-inflected approaches to the social studies of finance. The focus on trading as the core of finance and the analysis of trading as an analog of technoscientific practice unwittingly substantiate one of the core ideological claims of finance, that it is a discrete world whose activities are protoscientific. A focus on the legal, regulatory, and documentary practices that instantiate the world of traders, in contrast, presents a very different conception of finance. Finance, in this view, is an explicit politics (not a hidden politics masked as epistemological practice), a purposeful and stated compulsion of self and others, a realm of must, shall, and will, albeit one always defined by certain temporal limits. Attention to the temporal politics of finance requires an analytical approach that does more than uncover the politics of expertise. The promise of such an approach is that it might help us to apprehend already thriving forms of political response to global capitalism: arrangements of human and nonhuman legal instruments beyond critiques of global capitalism on the one hand and alternatives to global capitalism on the other. One such arrangement is what I term the placeholder.
Article
A descriptive theory of decision making is proposed in which decision makers represent information as images. One image consists of principles that recommend pursuit of specific goals. A second image represents the future state of events that would result from attainment of those goals. A third image consists of the plans that are being implemented in the attempt to attain the goals. A fourth image represents the anticipated results of the plans. Decisions consist of (1) adopting or rejecting potential candidates to be new principles, goals, or plans, and (2) determining whether progress toward goals is being made, i.e., whether the aspired-to future and the anticipated results of plan implementation correspond. Decisions are made using either (1) the compatibility between candidates and existing principles, goals and plans, and the compatibility between the images of the aspired-to and the anticipated states of events, or (2) the potential gains and losses offered by a goal or plan.
Article
am especially grateful to the anonymous members of the firm for their generous gift of their time. Much of the promise of modern management theory lies in the sophisticated analytical tools proposed for managerial problems such as inventory management, financial risk analysis, and quality control. Advocates of these tools treat managerial problems as decisions which require some instruction in making better use of the information available (Feldman and March, 1981). Yet against this promise of analytical power, a great deal of experience questions the value of these models in use. Some organizational theorists have called attention to the spread of fads through management practice, suggesting that consultants and practitioners emit a rhetoric of success that does not match the reality of the practice (Abrahamson, 199X). Others suggest that, through social dynamics, the basis of value shifts over time, such that institutional forces overtake the technical merit of a practice (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983). The practices gain value “beyond the technical requirements of the task at hand ” (Selznick, 1957: 17) and are then ceremonially adopted (Meyer and Rowan, 1977) for their legitimacy value. Evidence in such diverse settings as the diffusion of civil service reform (Tolbert and Zucker, 1983)
Article
Political economy and economic sociology have developed in relative isolation from each other. While political economy focuses largely on macro phenomena, economic sociology focuses on the embeddedness of economic action. The article argues that economic sociology can provide a microfoundation for political economy beyond rational actor theory and behavioral economics. At the same time political economy offers a unifying research framework for economic sociology with its focus on the explanation of capitalist dynamics. The sociological microfoundation for understanding of capitalist dynamics should focus on the expectations actors have regarding future states of the world. Based on a discussion of what I call the four Cs of capitalism (credit, commodification, creativity, and competition), I argue that under conditions of uncertainty, expectations are contingent and should be understood as fictional expectations. The capability of humans to imagine future states of the world that can be different from the present is the central basis for a sociological microfoundation of the dynamics of economic macro phenomena. Macroeconomic dynamics are anchored in these fictional expectations, which create motifs for engaging in potentially profitable but ultimately incalculable outcomes. This shifts attention to the management of expectations as a crucial element of economic activity and to the institutional, political, and cultural foundations of expectations. The reproduction of capitalism is precarious also because of the contingency of expectations conducive to its growth.
Article
Speculative bubbles have long been a feature of financial and asset markets, both in the United States and elsewhere. Although the bubble in the U.S. stock market collapsed in roughly 2000, housing prices now appear to be dramatically overvalued. Indeed, recent dramatic home price increases in the United States cannot be explained by fundamentals. Over the long run, real home prices may not increase by as much as investors expect today. Real estate is America’s second largest asset class, and a new futures market now enables investors to hedge or to speculate against changes in residential home prices in 10 large U.S. cities, offering a portfolio diversification benefit provided the fledgling derivatives market flourishes.
Article
Predictions of the future of organizations are variations on a theme of fantasy: reliably incorrect and usefully seductive. To illustrate a few general points about the role of imagination in human existence, some predictions about the future of organizations are developed from an interpretation of the environments that will shape organizational survival. The predictions emphasize the adaptiveness of populations of rigid, disposable organizations as well as some of the problems of sustaining rigidity. Imaginations of the future are portrayed as instruments of the organizational obstinacy required by such an adaptive system. Mention is made of one or two of the consequences of robbing fantasy of its innocence in this way.
Article
How to address empirically the calculative character of markets without dissolving it? In our paper, we propose a theoretical framework that helps to deal with markets without suspending their calculative properties. In the first section, we construct a broad definition of calculation, grounded on the anthropology of science and techniques. In the next sections, we apply this definition to three constitutive elements of markets: economic goods, economic agents and economic exchanges. First, we examine the question of the calculability of goods: in order to be calculated, goods must be calculable. In the following section, we introduce the notion of calculative distributed agencies to understand how these calculable goods are actually calculated. Thirdly, we consider the rules and material devices that organize the encounter between (and aggregation of) individual supplies and demands, i.e. the specific organizations that allow for a calculated exchange and a market output. Those three elements define concrete markets as collective organized devices that calculate compromises on the values of goods. In each, we encounter different versions of our broad definition of calculation, which we illustrate with examples, mainly taken from the fields of financial markets and mass retail.