Accommodating or compromising change: A story about ambitions and historic deterministic scenarios

S.A. van 't Klooster*, M.B.A. van Asselt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Despite the basic idea of scenarios as providing a heuristic for identifying, understanding and responding to changed conditions, many scenario studies are criticized for treating the future as an incremental continuation of the past. To understand this discrepancy between theoretical ambitions and actual practice with regard to accommodating change we followed professional futurists around. We observed that futurist curtail and slice time and we identified two temporal repertoires that inhibit different views on how (academic) knowledge about past and present is used in assessing the future: historic determinism and futuristic difference. Our empirically informed analysis is a story about ambitions in line with the futuristic difference, the re-introduction and rise of historic determinism and finally the fall of futuristic difference. Our analysis of foresight in action and foresight output yields that the retreat to historic determinism is a major pitfall for futurists in general. Our story suggest that the futures studies community needs to develop and encourage more adequate responses to the 'siren' of historic determinism. Practitioners who aim to employ futuristic difference throughout the foresight endeavour would then be better equipped to succeed in their ambitions. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-98
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Accommodating change
  • Foresight (in action)
  • Futuristic difference
  • Historic determinism
  • TIME
  • Temporal repertoires

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