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What is the Future?

What is the Future?

John Urry

ISBN: 978-0-745-69657-7

Sep 2016

200 pages

$12.99

Description

Thinking about the future is essential for almost all organizations and societies. States, corporations, universities, cities, NGOs and individuals believe they cannot miss the future. But what exactly is the future? It remains a mystery – perhaps the greatest mystery, especially because futures are unpredictable and often unknowable, the outcome of many factors, known and unknown. The future is rarely a simple extrapolation from the present.

In this important book, John Urry seeks to capture the many efforts that have been made to anticipate, visualize and elaborate the future. This includes examining the methods used to model the future, from those of the RAND Corporation to imagined future worlds in philosophy, literature, art, film, TV and computer games. He shows that futures are often contested and saturated with different interests, especially in relation to future generations. He also shows how analyses of social institutions, practices and lives should be central to examining potential futures, and issues such as who owns the future.

The future seems to be characterized by ‘wicked problems’. There are multiple ‘causes’ and ‘solutions’, long-term lock-ins and complex interdependencies, and different social groups have radically different frames for understanding what is at stake. Urry explores these issues through case-studies of 3D printing and the future of manufacturing, mobilities in the city, and the futures of energy and climate change.

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  • PREFACE
  • 1 THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED
  • 2 TELLING FUTURES IN THE PAST
  • 3 NEW CATASTROPHIC FUTURES
  • 4 TIME AND COMPLEX SYSTEMS
  • 5 INNOVATIONS AND FUTURES
  • 6 ANTICIPATING FUTURES
  • 7 MANUFACTURING FUTURE WORLDS
  • 8 FUTURE CITIES ON THE MOVE
  • 9 CLIMATE FUTURES
  • 10 THE FUTURE OF FUTURES
  • REFERENCES
  • INDEX
‘It is time for progressive forces to reclaim the future. Through the crucial lens of social science, this means understanding both the past and how to better work together to craft the futures we want. This brilliant book cuts through a tangle of complexity to show us how.’
Stewart Wallis, New Economics Foundation

‘John Urry, one of the leading sociologists of the past half-century, made a major contribution to the analysis of climate change and related issues, and this new book combines a comprehensive overview of the futures literature with a more detailed focus on some central themes. This learned yet very accessible book is in the best traditions of critical future studies. Anyone interested in the big questions facing our societies should read it.’
William Outhwaite, Newcastle University