If we take uncertainty seriously instead of conflating it with risk, it becomes evident that expectations cannot be probabilistic assessments of future states of the world. Under genuine uncertainty, expectations become interpretative frames that structure situations through imaginaries of future states of the world and of causal relations. Expectations become determinate only through the imaginaries actors develop.
The term “fictional expectations” refers to the images actors form as they consider future states of the world, the way they visualize causal relations, and the ways they perceive their actions influencing outcomes. The term also refers to the symbolic qualities that actors ascribe to goods and that transcend the goods’ material features. This is often a feature of actors’ relationships to consumer goods, but it also holds for the ascription of value to tokens that circulate as money. Actors use imaginaries of future situations and of causal relations as well as the symbolically ascribed qualities of goods as interpretative frames to orient decision- making despite the incalculability of outcomes.
Fictional should not be taken to mean that these expectations are false or mere fantasies, only that expectations of the unforeseeable future inhabit the mind not as foreknowledge, but as contingent imaginaries. Actors, motivated by an imagined future state, organize their activities based on this mental representation and the emotions associated with it. Expectations under conditions of uncertainty.