FUTUREPOL - A political history of the future: knowledge production and future governance 1945-2010
The research project “A political history of the future: knowledge production and future governance 1945-2010” – FUTUREPOL – is supervised by Jenny Andersson and based at the Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics, Sciences Po. It is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) for a 6 year period (2012-2017).
FUTUREPOL studies how contemporary societies engage with the future. It seeks to answer the fundamental question: How does the future become an object of governance?
The future offers a particular challenge for the governance of contemporary societies. What is the future, and can it be steered and controlled? Different societies over time and space have answered this question very differently, ranging from the oracles of Antiquity to the foresight processes of the European Union. This makes the future a pertinent object of historical analysis, but it also points to the question of how and why ideas of the future and of our possibilities to influence it change over time. FUTUREPOL intends to set out a new field of research in the intersection between transnational history, science studies, and the literature on governance – a field that we might call a political history of the future. At the heart of such a political history of the future stands the way that the future, for key actors, organizations, governments and institutions, was understood, in the post war period, as an object of politics and governance, as something that could be transformed through political struggle, and as something that could be planned, influenced and controlled through politics.
The project posits four research objectives:
- to study the emergence of a global future field in the post war period, particularly with reference to the circulation of scientific and intellectual ideas around futurology,
- to explore the way that these ideas gave rise to forms of future governance in national administrations in Europe,
- to understand how such forms of national future governance stood in relationship to emerging world futures, particularly after 1970, and
- to study the evolution of means of future governance over time up until the present day.