Conceptualising the relational foundations of future-oriented agency
The role and agency of grass-roots level citizens in future making are arousing increasing interest in futures studies. While the existing research provides increasing information on how future-oriented or prospective attitude can be stimulated, researchers are at the same time struggling with understanding why future-oriented attitude does not lead to action and seeking to provide alternatives for assumptions about rational decision-making. This study draws on sociological theories to elaborate on the concept of future-oriented agency. We examine the role of future awareness, social relations and individual and collective concerns in the development of agency, and suggest that researchers should address relational power, in addition to future-orientation, as a component of agency. We then elaborate on this conceptualisation using empirical data on how young people reflect on their attitudes towards and role in the development of future food system. The paper ends with evaluating the implications of the proposed conceptualisation for interventions aiming to support citizens’ future-oriented agency. This way, the paper contributes to understanding the formation of future-oriented agency and the role of education in that process.