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Myths of the future and scenario archetypes

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Abstract

We employ tools from the social cognition and cultural theory literatures to explore images, concerns, expectations, and attitudes towards the future among the general public. An online survey of 950 Australian citizens was conducted to identify five distinct views of the future. These myths of the future are ‘social crisis’, ‘eco-crisis’, ‘techno-optimism’, ‘power and economic inequality’, and ‘social transformation’. We discuss how these myths relate to the scenario archetypes as commonly employed in foresight literature. This analysis reveals how psychological and cognitive considerations may contribute to the literature and could be incorporated in the running of foresight exercises. Among the 5 myths, techno-optimism describes beliefs that science and technology are likely to create innovations that can improve our quality of life. It provides a firm anchor between scenario archetypes, myths of the future, and the STEEP (social, technological, economic, environmental, and political) framework, by holding a similar meaning in all three settings. Our analysis also elucidates how attitudes towards technological development are not value-free and are influenced by beliefs regarding how society and the environment should be managed, and to what extent technology itself can be a positive or negative force in this management.

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APA

Boschetti, F., Price, J., & Walker, I. (2016). Myths of the future and scenario archetypes. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 111, 76–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2016.06.009

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