Do green movements play the doom card too frequently? And, if so, does it matter?

These questions have been on my mind lately, particularly in relation to an article entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth” (link) which recently caught fire on social media. This post briefly considers these questions and related questions about human action on climate and energy issues. The questions are not simple or straightforward to consider, but topical high-profile …

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Never Saw It Coming

Karen Cerulo’s book Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst is an interesting sociological book which considers the socio-cultural practices and other factors that influence whether worst case scenarios have a sufficiently prominent place in thinking and planning. The analysis is mostly focussed on the United States of America. Cerulo analysis proposes …

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Theories of expectations and sustainability-oriented research

Last year I discovered Jens Beckert’s research on the role of fictional expectations in the economy.  Beckert interestingly contrasts the concept of fictional expectations with notion of rational expectations in economic theory, and in his recently published book Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics he further develops a sociological theory of expectations.  Beckert’s work …

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New publication on proactive (or ‘transformative’) scenario planning

UPDATE: My principal PhD supervisor and I have just published a new paper which reviews and contributes to the distinction between reactive and proactive/’transformative’ forms of scenario planning, which is part of a special issue of the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy – see: http://www.inderscience.com/info/inarticletoc.php?jcode=ijfip&year=2015&vol=10&issue=2/3/4. The paper focusses on proactive (or ‘transformative’) approaches …

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Casting a sociological eye on the mobilisation of techniques of prospection by scientists

For a long time I’ve been interested in the relationship between science and society, often with focus on the social and political processes that shape the production, evaluation and use of scientific knowledge and technology. These interests include the misuse of science and statistics (emphasised by writers like Ben Goldacre) – bad science is common …

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Examining the role of anticipatory knowledge in institutional change

Initially major motivations for doing my PhD research were to contribute to the evidence base that underpins ‘foresight’ work (given that formal evaluations are rarely conducted and practitioners rarely have the time or the capacity to do this research), and to contribute to a better understanding of the roles such tools and practices can play …

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Studying prospective practices at Australia’s national science organisation (PhD update)

The past two weeks have been eventful ones for my doctoral research. As a result, the eventual thesis  (one day I’ll get there…) will now be a single “nested” case study which examines the use of techniques and practices of prospection by the Energy Flagship within CSIRO, Australia’s national science organisation, with a focus on …

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Rethinking the received wisdom on ‘foresight’ practices

Early in my PhD studies I reviewed the literature on so-called ‘foresight’ practices such as on scenario-building, scenario-based planning, and techno-economic modelling. What came through clearly is that there is a dominant set of ideas about these practices. These ideas can be termed the received wisdom. These ideas include that foresight methods and practices are …

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Has Paul Gilding lost the plot?

Former Greenpeace International Executive Director, Paul Gilding, has written a new blog post entitled “Don’t be Fossil Fooled – It’s Time to Say Goodbye”. He claims that “the fossil fuel energy industry [and not just in Australia, the global fossil fuel industry] is now entering terminal decline and will be all but gone within 15-30 years” …

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The management of expectations, ‘temporal work’, and the functions of fictional expectations in structuring action in the present

Recently I’ve been reading some papers in which sociologists take the uncertainty and indeterminacy of decision situations (such as most decision situations in economic contexts) as a key starting point for their analysis and theory-building. For example, because of the fundamental uncertainty that characterises many decisions in economic contexts Jens Beckert argues that the decision-making …

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