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Accepted Paper:

Representing possible futures: Organizational planning as the re-making of reality  
Trenholme Junghans (independent)

Paper long abstract:

This paper reflects on a particularly "modern" practice of doubling and the generation of parallel worlds: organizational planning, or the technique of simulating possible future states in order to anticipate and control potential outcomes. Although such practices are fundamental to organizing in the industrialized world (in the guise of rational planning, risk management, etc.), they have largely escaped ethnographic attention as a variety of ritual performance. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in healthcare settings, and drawing upon organization theory and semiotics, I will explore some of the representational practices associated with the envisaging of possible futures, and the means by which they generate intelligible horizons of possibility and necessity, and guide practice in ways that mask the radical contingency and indeterminacy of human action. In conclusion I suggest that planning can be viewed as a performative remaking of reality which projectively erases the contingent conditions of its own possibility.

Panel W060
Skeletons in the subjunctive: challenges of studying future(s)
  Session 1