Futures studies and the importance of ‘images’

Tangible Futures, Part 2: The historical context

The Wilson Quarterly’s Winter 2006 issue focuses on future studies and includes this historical review, Has Futurism Failed? In it the authors cite several practitioners hailing the importance of our images of the future. To me this could include our science fiction, our movies, and our political rhetoric, as well as our vision for business. Here’s an excerpt:

…widely shared images of the future can sometimes open up large new realms of behavior possibilities, creating chain reactions of self-organizing change. This insight actually emerged in some of the early work in future studies. The economist Kenneth Boulding put the matter clearly: “The human condition can almost be summed up in the observation that, whereas all experiences are of the past, all decisions are about the future. The image of the future, therefore, is the key to all choice-oriented behavior. The character and quality of the images of the future which prevail in a society are therefore the most important clue to its overall dynamics.”

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