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Constructing futures: a social constructionist perspective on foresight methodology

By Ted Fuller and Krista Loogma

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\ud 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\ud 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\ud 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\ud 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

Topics: N100 Business studies, N200 Management studies
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.futures.2008.07.039
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:2749

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