On the psychological plausibility of prospective exercises (i.e. foresight/futures exercises etc.)

This post began as a research “memo” (written to myself as an entry in a reflective PhD journal) entitled “on psychological plausibility”. I was prompted to write it by a couple of pieces written by David Roberts on current debates about 100% renewable electricity and the feasibility of such goals (see link, link) and other …

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The knowledge illusion and its effects, good and bad

A new book popularising and discussing cognitive science, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, recently got my attention. It focusses on recent research findings that people tend to radically overestimate how much they know and, linked with this, greatly overestimate their knowledge of how things work (e.g. fairly simple things like how modern …

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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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Contemplating the tensions between scholarship and activism

Whilst many people would argue that there aren’t unsolvable tensions between scholarship and activism I’ve sometimes found that there are tensions. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about regarding future career options and directions. I was also stimulated to revisit this line of thought by a fascinating talk given by the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt …

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What is meant by the politics of sustainability transitions?

The latest issue of the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning is a special issue on “The Politics of Transition” (link). In the introductory essay the special issue editors argue that sustainability transitions “involve politics in the broadest sense of the word”. They cite a broad conceptualisation of politics – proposed by Adrian Leftwich in …

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Some reflections on IST 2016

The International Sustainability Transitions conference (the annual conference of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network) was held earlier this month in Wuppertal, Germany. Wuppertal turned out to be an interesting place to hold this conference. This part of Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia) is an industrial region – one presenter claimed that the region produces 10% of the …

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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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