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Selling the FutureThe Perils of Predicting Global Politics$
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Ariel Colonomos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190603649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190603649.001.0001

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The Future on Stage

(p.1) Introduction
Selling the Future

Ariel Colonomos

, Gregory Elliott
Oxford University Press

The future is an idea about worlds to come. The world we live in is seen as more uncertain, and demand for predictions and forecasts about international politics is growing. This book explores the political and epistemic status of future claims and their effects on contemporary international politics. It also develops a normative analysis of what future claims ought to be in a democratic society. It shows the importance of going beyond the two main sociological approaches to fully understand the political nature of future claims. This includes classical sociology, which is mostly focused on the hypothesis of the self-fulfilling nature of future claims and critical theory, emphasizing the arbitrariness of the social construction of the future and its accelerating effects. This book analyzes four paradoxes that characterize predictions and forecasts in international politics. Claims about the future are linear and trace continuity between the past, the present and the future; therefore they tend not to anticipate radical junctures. There is very limited pluralism in predictions and forecasts. They can slow down some processes while they stabilize beliefs and favor inaction. Future claims help create surprises when major changes happen.

Keywords:   Future, Forecasting, Predictions, Scenarios, Galileo, Constructivism, Cuba missile crisis, Self-fulfilling prophecy, Social acceleration, Time

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