Association for the Anthropology of Policy
Oral Presentation Session
Christina Garsten (Stockholm University)
What happened to the grand narrative of modernity? To answer this question, this paper draws on ongoing fieldwork among futurists in two US-based think tanks. It presents their work on creating models for the future, and their attempts to advance concepts and scenarios for the future, aimed towards the bettering of the world.
Every second year, one of these organizations, here called The Future Network, constructs an index of the future, attempting to picture how the future fairs 50 years ahead. As such, the indexes are models of future life, fabricated and sold. The other organization, here called The Future Institute, offers templated courses aimed at leaders of various types of organizations to prepare them for the future. Indexes and courses may be seen as tools or raw materials used for the production of “imaginaries of modernity” within the future industry; an industry that produces and thrives on models. Whilst this industry has long antecedents in various markets, such as finance, security and technology, it is during the last 30 to 40 years that we have witnessed the establishment of a veritable future industry.