Innovating Responses to Crisis: Exploring the Principle of Non-Action as a Foresight Tool

by Giovanna Braidotti


Forecasts that predict disastrous consequences for our most cherished economic activities have created an unbearable tension at the heart of modern societies. We stand accused by science of prospering at the cost of the future. Yet we are assured by economics that gains in prosperity guarantee future well being. One way of solving this tension, popular with governments, is the idea that technological innovation can provide sufficient fixes allowing modernity to stay on course with a fundamentally unaltered identity, vision and mission. In this context, ‘innovation’ is framed as an essentially conservative construct operated by a technocratic elite. As a change-making tactic, the techno-fix amounts to action framed exclusively in the positive polarity: it seeks to bolster an existing system by adding in relevant fixes. Yet the literature that refers to ‘action’ in all its developmental capabilities refers to a second, negative polarity – so-called ‘non-action’ – that is defined by renunciation. In view that non-action options are rarely discussed or formulated, this paper serves as an introductory exploration into the nature and value of non-action and makes the case that it offers foresight practitioners methodological possibilities for innovating responses to social and environmental crisis.

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