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Books Year : 2016

Selling the Future


In an age of uncertainty, those who can anticipate revolution, the outbreak of wars, or which states might default are much in demand. The marketplace of ideas about the future is huge, and includes ‘wonks’, scholars and pundits who produce scenarios, predictions and ratings. The more opaque the future seems to be, the further the relationship between knowledge and power intensifies — above all the nexus between those who sell their expertise and those who consume it. In his investigation of the paradoxes of forecasting, Ariel Colonomos interrogates today’s knowledge factories to reveal how our futures are shaped by social scientists, think-tanks and rating agencies. He explains why conservative and linear predictions prevail, and why the future, especially when linked to national interest, reflects a systematic search for stability. The notion of a globalised world whose main characteristic is speed, and where predictions have accelerating, self-fulfilling effects, is obsolete. Those who are supposed to know reassure those who are supposed to act. Their preferences converge, and thus the industry of the future has a decelerating effect on world politics. These ‘lords of knowledge’ reinforce pre-existing beliefs, create expectations about the future, while obstructing its vision when — inevitably — it diverges from its orderly path. (Publisher's abstract)
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Dates and versions

hal-01497818 , version 1 (29-03-2017)



Ariel Colonomos. Selling the Future: The Perils of Predicting Global Politics. Hurst Publishers, pp.224, 2016. ⟨hal-01497818⟩
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