85202 – 1A: The Horizon of Future Studies

In contemplation of the future, Tuomo Kuosa argues that there have been two paradigms that have maintained scholarly hegemony. These two paradigms are determinism and mystic prediction, and indeterministic control based studies (Kuosa 2011). These future methodologies take a individualistic stance when considering humanity’s future, and both can be considered as responses to a respective cultural status quo; the second of these paradigms, Kuosa argues, was brought forth after World War II by the US, whereby in response to the indeterminant nature of war, thinking was cemented in probabilities and external trend analysis. In a like manner, a deterministic futuring paradigm, as a response to a dominant cultural norm, is referenced in literature during periods of history where religion acted as a major agent of change in all facets of society (i.e governance and culture).

Maryisabella Ada Ezeh of the University of Nigeria, writes about Shakespeare’s Macbeth and explores the contention between determinism and a sense of free-will; she argues that this thematic concern of the play is reflective of it’s cultural paradigm. This society is clearly evidenced to favour a deterministic way of thinking, in contrast to modern lines of thinking where the former has little influence.

A third future studies paradigm has emerged that takes a more pluralistic approach. Most of the scholarship surrounding this methodology began toward the end of the 20th century; the early models of Sohail Inayatullah (1990), Wendell Bell (1997), and Jennifer Gidley (2009) have opposed the concept of an individual future. Rather there is an acceptance of multiple, and preferred futures, which allow designers and researchers to take advantage of a range of methods that can generate and reference these multiple futures.  See this post by the World Futures Studies Federation to explore how different models have influenced each other, and have developed a taxonomy of traditions in modern future studies.


This image references this modern tradition of future studies methodology, but depicting the scope of what a pluralistic approach can proffer to design researchers

When contemplating a future for food, or simply what food can look like in the future, there is a focus on the pertinence of food to a society. What makes food so important that we need to enact futuring methodology? In 2002, The Guardian published an article that countered a general focus, by various health agencies, on obesity. Rather, the fast food industry was presented as an impedance to the social nature of food; it is now “desocialised” and “uncivilising” (Fernandez-Armesto, 2002). This article examples how culture and human nature are major notes of consideration when contemplating a future for food. Fernandez- Armesto positions food beyond its necessity for biological survival.



Bell, W. 1997/2003, ‘Foundations of Futures Studies I: History, Purposes, Knowledge’ New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Gidley, J. M., Fien, J., Smith, J-A., Thomsen, D. C., and Smith, T. F. 2009, Participatory Futures Methods: Towards Adaptability and Resilience in Climate-Vulnerable Communities, Environmental Policy and Governance, vol. 19, no. 06, pp. 427-440.

Kuosa, T. 2011, Evolution of futures studies, Futuresvol.43, no. 3, pp.327-336

Voros, J. 2017, Futures cone, The Voroscope, viewed 20 October 2018, <https://thevoroscope.com/2017/02/24/the-futures-cone-use-and-history/ >.

Ada Ezeh, M. 2015, William Shakespeare and Freewill: A liberation and naturalistic enquiry into the actions of Macbeth, Global Journal of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 3, no.4, pp 42

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s