“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” (Antonio Gramsci).
From a global financial crisis that has not lead to a fundamental change in institutions, to a global refugee crisis that questions our ideas of governance, all against a background of global climate crisis with no intergovernmental consensus on solutions … how do we think about the future, about futures?
What could then lead to the new? What role could sociology play in the inventing of the new? What is a sociological imagination of the future? This richly theoretical and empirically informed text explores the trends, alternative visions, and new directions for sociological research. The diversity of theoretical approaches and regional expertise reflect the complexity of challenges and the multiplicity of future projects on a shared planet.
It is now time to re-examine the sociological imagination of futures. There are at least four crucial intellectual trends must shape such rethinking. First, scholars from or engaged with the Global South have challenged static, determinist orthodoxies and emphasized the conflictual nature of knowledge. Second, there is increased attention to contingency, choice, and creativity across vastly different theory types and research approaches from the micro to the macro. Third, there is the passionate advocacy of what Burawoy has called “public sociology”, which has helped sociologists to reach out to and engage with publics, especially in countries, such as the United States, where sociologists. Fourth, social movements and contentious practices in everyday life keep critical thought about alternative futures alive. A sociology with global aspirations and attuned to the problems of inequality can benefit listening closely to the voices at the grassroots.