Article (Scientific journals)
Building on anticipation: dystopia as empowerment
Claisse, Frédéric; Delvenne, Pierre
2015In Current Sociology, 63 (2)
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Keywords :
Dystopia; Futures Research; Narrative; Anticipation; Blurring of boundaries; Empowerment
Abstract :
[en] A dystopia can be defined as the depiction of a dark future building on the systematic amplification of current trends and features. It relates to a complex narrative posture that relies on the critical observation of a threatening present that would lead to an apocalyptic future “if nothing was done.” Yet, however inescapable this future may be described, the very existence of such a narrative presupposes that the political community it tries to reach is actually able to do something to thwart it. Oddly enough, a successful dystopia aims at making itself obsolete: once the world it depicts is identified as a possible (or even unavoidable) future, it seems to empower its readers again, restoring what Musil called a ‘sense of possibilities’ that eventually make alternative pathways thinkable. In our contribution, we propose to broaden the range of commonly accepted dystopists (usually fiction writers and novelists like e.g. George Orwell’s 1984) to sociologists like Ulrich Beck. Building on his Risk Society (1986), Beck’s strong diagnosis about the breakdown of First Modernity and the coming of Second Modernity contains a noticeable prophetic and evangelical overtone that aims at “reinventing politics.” We defend the notion that the dystopian posture can be used to characterize both fiction and nonfiction writers such as Orwell and Beck: a common ability, based on the same set of inextricably cognitive and normative patterns, to anticipate the future and eventually empower political communities to engage in further action.
Research center :
Scientific and Public Involvement in Risk Allocations Laboratory (SPIRAL)
Disciplines :
Political science, public administration & international relations
Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
Claisse, Frédéric ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Gouvernance et société
Delvenne, Pierre  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Gouvernance et société
Language :
Title :
Building on anticipation: dystopia as empowerment
Publication date :
March 2015
Journal title :
Current Sociology
Publisher :
SAGE Publications
Volume :
Issue :
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
Available on ORBi :
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