The futures of futures studies
Pushing the boundaries of futures thinking
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), 11:00-13:00, cowork

Is the sociology of the future the future of sociology?

In the last decades, a growing number of sociologists have made the future a legitimate object of inquiry within the scope of their discipline. What is at stake, according to these scholars, is the foundation of a new and emerging branch: the “sociology of the future.”
This paper considers the project of a “sociology of the future” in the history of the discipline. Through a textual analysis (focused on scientific articles and talks), I will show that sociologists’ interest in the future runs through the second half of the 20th century. This analysis will then enable me to raise and clarify the epistemological difficulties encountered during the various attempts to establish a “new” sociology of the future. Following the way in which sociologists themselves problematize the project of scientifically studying the future, I will outline three difficulties. The first difficulty concerns the complex relationship that sociology of the future entertains with the profession of futurist: are the two activities compatible or mutually exclusive? The second difficulty concerns the relationship with the field of Future Studies: if one encroaches on the territory of the other, there doesn’t seem to be any real dialogue. Finally, the third difficulty concerns the relationship with the rest of the sociological discipline: is the study of the future separable from other areas of social life, or does it have the ambition to become a general sociology? At the end of this presentation, I will present how the sociologists of the future perceive the future of sociology.

Post-doctoral Researcher
ComUE Université Paris Lumières