Constructing futures: a social constructionist perspective on foresight methodology

Fuller, Ted and Loogma, Krista (2009) Constructing futures: a social constructionist perspective on foresight methodology. Futures, 41 (2). pp. 71-79. ISSN 0016-3287

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the relationship between a particular epistemological perspective and foresight methodology. We draw on a body of social
theory concerned with the way that meaning is produced and assimilated by society; specifically, the social construction of knowledge, which is distinguished from its nearneighbour constructivism by its focus on inter-subjectivity. We show that social constructionism, at least in its weak form, seems to be implicit in many epistemological assumptions underlying futures studies. We identify a range of distinctive methodological
features in foresight studies, such as time, descriptions of difference, participation and values, and examine these from a social constructionist perspective. It appears that social constructionism is highly resonant with the way in which knowledge of the future is produced and used. A social constructionism perspective enables a methodological
reflection on how, with what legitimacy, and to what social good, knowledge is produced. Foresight that produces symbols without inter-subjective meaning neither anticipates, nor produces futures. Our conclusion is that foresight is both a social construction, and a
mechanism for social construction. Methodologically, foresight projects should acknowledge the socially constructed nature of their process and outcomes as this will lead to greater rigour and legitimacy.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the relationship between a particular epistemological perspective and foresight methodology. We draw on a body of social theory concerned with the way that meaning is produced and assimilated by society; specifically, the social construction of knowledge, which is distinguished from its nearneighbour constructivism by its focus on inter-subjectivity. We show that social constructionism, at least in its weak form, seems to be implicit in many epistemological assumptions underlying futures studies. We identify a range of distinctive methodological features in foresight studies, such as time, descriptions of difference, participation and values, and examine these from a social constructionist perspective. It appears that social constructionism is highly resonant with the way in which knowledge of the future is produced and used. A social constructionism perspective enables a methodological reflection on how, with what legitimacy, and to what social good, knowledge is produced. Foresight that produces symbols without inter-subjective meaning neither anticipates, nor produces futures. Our conclusion is that foresight is both a social construction, and a mechanism for social construction. Methodologically, foresight projects should acknowledge the socially constructed nature of their process and outcomes as this will lead to greater rigour and legitimacy.
Keywords:constructing futures, social constructionist perspective, foresight methodology, methodologically
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
N Business and Administrative studies > N200 Management studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Business School
ID Code:2749
Deposited By: Rosaline Smith
Deposited On:02 Jul 2010 12:08
Last Modified:18 Nov 2013 14:12

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