Accepted Paper:

Clashing futures as drivers of socio-technological change  


Andreas Lösch (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology )
Alexandra Hausstein (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

Our paper presents conceptual reflections on how productive clashes of competing futures shape processes of innovation and sociotechnical change. How do futures interact with each other, resulting in processes of assembling, recombining and integrating certain elements of competing futures?

Paper long abstract:

Science and Technology Studies on sociotechnical futures (such as visions, imaginaries and expectations) often assume, that innovations and sociotechnical changes are influenced by one stabilized, dominant and successful vision of a future. This is often a strategy that reconstructive studies use, in order to tell a consistent story line on the roles of futuristic visions and imaginaries, showing how a variety of actor expectations converge in commonly shaped visions or imaginaries, and constructing correlations with specific trends and results of such processes. We will argue, that such correlations can be better explained, if one focusses analytically on the "socio-epistemic practices" where diverse visions of futures enable re-configurations and new configurations of the orders of knowledge and simultaneously of the sociotechnical arrangements. ( Thus, we would like to propose an approach, where we analyze the emergence of dominant futures and the related processes of their construction and re-construction in different settings, by diverse actors. That means that we conceive clashes of competing futures as being constitutive for successful futures, but not just in the sense, that one future (e.g. imaginary, narrative) replaces or eliminates alternative futures. Our paper will concentrate on the question, how competing futures interact with each other, resulting in processes of successfully assembling, appropriating, hybridizing, recombining and integrating certain elements of competing futures. Our paper presents and discusses conceptual reflections on this issue and will illustrate them by spotlights on such productive clashes in different cases (e.g., nanotechnology, energy).

Panel D01
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet