Author:Andrew Irving (University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how small actions, such as turning right or left, can have radical consequences for the future. In doing so it considers how the uncertainties of life are negotiated, understood and acted upon in a world shaped by power but rooted in happenstance, action, contingency and necessity.
Paper long abstract:
"One of the most significant facts about us" declared Clifford Geertz "is that we all begin with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life but end up in the end having only lived one" (1973:45). This suggests how human existence is based in a kind of double contingency, encompassing both chance and necessity, for example in the form of random encounters, luck and happenstance—but also the circumstances of one's land of birth, nationality, ethnicity and economic status—all of which are played out and understood in terms of forces such as fate, destiny, divine providence, world events and the machinations of the global-political economy. This paper explores how small actions, such as turning right or left, can have radical consequences for the future, in order to consider how the uncertainties of life are negotiated, understood and acted upon—including how people come to terms with the relationship between the life they could have lived and the one they ended up living -in a world shaped by power but rooted in action, contingency and necessity.
Possible/plausible/probable/preferable: concepts and techniques for realising futures [FAN]