Uncertain Futures: Imaginaries, Narratives, and Calculation in the Economy (Paperback)
Uncertain Futures considers how economic actors visualize the future and decide how to act in conditions of radical uncertainty. It starts from the premise that dynamic capitalist economies are characterized by relentless innovation and novelty and hence exhibit an indeterminacy that cannot be reduced to measurable risk. The organizing question then becomes how economic actors form expectations and make decisions despite the uncertainty they face. This edited volume lays the foundations for a new model of economic reasoning by showing how, in conditions of uncertainty, economic actors combine calculation with imaginaries and narratives to form fictional expectations that coordinate action and provide the confidence to act. It draws on groundbreaking research in economic sociology, economics, anthropology, and psychology to present theoretically grounded empirical case studies. These demonstrate how grand narratives, central bank forward guidance, economic forecasts, finance models, business plans, visions of technological futures, and new era stories influence behaviour and become instruments of power in markets and societies. The market impact of shared calculative devices, social narratives, and contingent imaginaries underlines the rationale for a new form of narrative economics.
Jens Beckert, Professor of Sociology and Director, The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, CologneRichard Bronk, Visiting Senior Fellow, European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science Jens Beckert is director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. In 2018 he was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for his work reinvigorating the social sciences with an interdisciplinary perspective, especially at the intersection of sociology and economics. His research focuses on the fields of economic sociology, sociology of inheritance, organization theory, and social theory. Richard Bronk is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He spent seventeen years working in the City of London and the Bank of England before teaching political economy at LSE from 2000-2007. His research now focuses on the role of imagination and language in economics, the dangers of analytical and regulatory monocultures, and the epistemology of markets.