Future Imaginaries in Theory and Practice

  • Julia Cook
Part of the Critical Studies in Risk and Uncertainty book series (CRSTRU)


This chapter considers whether the ways in which the respondents in this study imagined the societal future had any overlap with popular theoretical accounts of the contemporary era (and by extension, its future horizon). Rather than simply comparing the respondents’ imaginings of the future to these macro accounts, the future imaginaries that were identified in the previous chapter are considered alongside these accounts with the aim of comparing units of similar generality. Although the imaginary premised on a narrative of societal decline and eventual crisis aligns with some of the main tenets of these accounts, the second, hope-infused imaginary does not appear to be compatible with their claims. This chapter therefore proposes an alternative way of interpreting the contemporary future.


Future imaginaries Multiple modernities Future thinking Risk and uncertainty 


  1. Adams, M. (2003). The reflexive self and culture: A critique. The British Journal of Sociology, 54(2), 221–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander, J. (1995). Fin de siècle social theory: Relativism, reduction, and the problem of reason. London: Verso, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Archer, M. (2012). The reflexive imperative in late modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Archer, M. (2013). Introduction: ‘Stability’ or ‘stablization’—On which would morphogenic society depend? In M. Archer (Ed.), Late modernity: Trajectories towards morphogenic society (pp. 1–20). Switzerland: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Arnason, J. (2002). The multiplication of modernity. In E. Ben-Rafael & Y. Sternberg (Eds.), Identity, culture, and globalization (pp. 131–155). Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  6. Atkinson, W. (2007). Beck, individualisation and the death of class: A critique. The British Journal of Sociology, 58(3), 349–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beck, U. (1987). The anthropological shock: Chernobyl and the contours of the risk society. Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 32(1), 153–165.Google Scholar
  8. Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity (M. Ritter, Trans.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Beck, U. (1997). The reinvention of politics: Rethinking modernity in the global social order. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  10. Beck, U. (1999). World risk society. Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Beck, U. (2006). Living in the world risk society. Economy & Society, 35(3), 329–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2002). Individualization: Institutionalized individualism and its social and political consequences. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Beck, U., Bonss, W., & Lau, C. (2003). The theory of reflexive modernization: Problematic, hypotheses and research program. Theory, Culture & Society, 20(2), 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Castoriadis, C. (1987). The imaginary institution of society (K. Blamey, Trans.). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  15. Castoriadis, C. (1997). The crisis of the identification process. Thesis Eleven, 49(1), 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colic-Peisker, V., & Johnson, G. (2012). Liquid life, solid homes: Young people, class and home ownership in Australia. Sociology, 46(4), 728–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eisenstadt, S. N. (2003). Comparative civilizations and multiple modernities. Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  18. Giddens, A. (1994). Living in a post-traditional society. In U. Beck, A. Giddens, & S. Lash (Eds.), Reflexive modernisation: Politics, tradition and aesthetics in the modern social order (pp. 56–109). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gross, N. (2005). The detraditionalization of intimacy reconsidered. Sociological Theory, 23(3), 286–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lübbe, H. (2008). The contraction of the present. In H. Rosa & W. E. Scheuerman (Eds.), High-speed society: Social acceleration, power, and modernity (pp. 159–178). University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Norgaard, K. M. (2011). Living in denial: Climate change, emotions, and every-day life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nowotny, H. (1994). Time: The modern and postmodern experience (N. Plaice, Trans.). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  23. Rosa, H. (2013). Social acceleration: A new theory of modernity (J. Trejo-Mathys, Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Szerszynski, B. (2005). Nature, technology, and the sacred. Malden: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tiryakian, E. (1992). Dialectics of modernity: Re-enchantments and differentiation as counter-processes. In H. Haferkamp & N. J. Smelser (Eds.), Social change and modernity (pp. 78–94). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations