The futures of becoming(s)
Exploring the liminal spaces between consciousness and spirituality
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), 11:00-13:00, cowork

Rethinking “Identity” in a Polarized Society

This paper examines the concept of agency within the Critical Realism (CR) theory's "Structure, Culture, and Agency" (SCA) paradigm and its implications for futures thinking and foresight practice. It argues that identity is not fixed but emerges through the interplay of social, cultural, and historical contexts. By analyzing political polarization in Thailand, the paper explores how identity formation can limit our ability to anticipate alternative and collective futures.
To understand identity comprehensively, the paper adopts CR as an ontological lens and incorporates morphogenesis theory to examine the power dynamics of structure and culture on agency. It utilizes diverse literature, thematic-, and content analysis to map social media posts and analyze the discourses surrounding political issues in Thailand.
The findings suggest that CR and morphogenesis theory provide insights into the complex dynamics of identity formation. Identity and representation emerge through multiple factors, including social, cultural, and historical contexts, and are influenced by power dynamics of socio-political discourses. Understanding these deeper roots of polarization enables intervention and transformation. Emancipatory theory highlights the capacity of individuals to challenge dominant narratives and ideologies.
This paper contributes by promoting reflexivity and critical engagement with assumptions, biases, and value systems through the lens of CR. It offers an epistemological approach to understanding a polarized society and the process of identity formation. The SCA matrix is introduced as a sense-making template, facilitating conversations on past dynamics, diverse perspectives, and potential outcomes. This matrix enhances self-reflection, empathy, and anticipatory thinking, fostering openness to alternative viewpoints and comprehensive consideration of future possibilities.

Post doctoral student
Center for Social Development Studies, Chulalongkorn University