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Accepted Paper:

Work on futures. Towards a more comprehensive understanding of sociotechnical futures  
Michael Kriechbaum (Graz University of Technology) Filip Rozborski (Graz University of Technology) Paula De Pablos Sanz (Technical University of Graz)

Short abstract:

In this study, we systematically explore and compare the underpinnings of the Sociology of Expectations and Sociotechnical Imaginaries. We enhance the STS understanding of futures’ performativity and dissemination by synthesizing our review findings from a social theory perspective.

Long abstract:

Sociotechnical futures are far from ‘innocent’ descriptions of what might happen in the future. Instead, they are collectively shared images that are performative, influencing how society, policymakers, scientists, and engineers make sense of the future and compelling them to act in the present.

STS scholars have long delved into the roles of sociotechnical futures and the ways in which they disseminate, exploring why some futures become widely shared and socially binding and others fade. The Sociology of Expectations and literature on Sociotechnical Imaginaries are two main strands of research that originate from these efforts. While both strands deal with the nature and social impact of futures in the STS context, they are grounded in distinct ontologies, theoretical and methodological approaches, and areas of interest. They also differ in terms of how futures are conceptualized (e.g., regarding the degrees of stability and implicitness) as well as in inquiry into the dissemination of futures and their social impact.

In our study, we systematically compare both research strands in order to contribute to conceptual clarity in the STS research on futures. Furthermore, we lay the foundation for an integrative theoretical framework of sociotechnical futures by synthesizing our review findings from a social theory perspective. In this way, our paper enhances the STS understanding of futures’ performativity and dissemination and not only delineates ways of shaping futures but also elucidates how established future accounts may be redefined and transformed.

Traditional Open Panel P056
Futures work
  Session 3 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -