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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Towards a Twenty-First-Century Sociological Engagement with the Future


In this paper I explore some early social science approaches to the future and revisit a sociological perspective that emerged in the United States during the 1960s. It was a perspective that sought to establish the future as a legitimate subject matter for sociology and called itself accordingly, the ‘sociology of the future.' I explore the explicit and implicit assumptions that underpin this and earlier approaches to the study of social futures, in order to consider the extent to which these still hold good for the contemporary condition.  Where the identified approaches and assumptions fall short, I note some of the changes that might be necessary for sociological engagement with the future to become appropriate to its contemporary subject matter.

Insights Paper