Path Dependence, Path Breaking, and Path Creation: A Theoretical Scaffolding for Futures Studies?

by Victor Tiberius


In many academic disciplines, descriptive, theoretical/explanatory, practical, and sometimes self-reflective objectives can usually be distinguished. Futures studies aim at exploring and explaining possible, probable, preferable and preventable futures, as well as shaping a desirable future (Amara 1981; Bell, 2003; Bell & Olick, 1989; Masini, 2001; Toffler, 1978). Futures research methods lead to one or alternate futures which can be described (e.g. the scenario method). When scenarios are presented, this necessarily is – at least implicitly – based on a notion of how these evolve. This directly corresponds to the theoretical objective. It certainly is not only important to present alternate images of the future, but also to deliver an explanation of the path that leads to specific futures (de Jouvenel, 2000, p.63).(continue…)

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