Sunday, 09 June, 2024


Macroeconomic forecasts, to give one example, are based on the statistical examination of past events. More generally, assessments of the future are influenced by past experiences and their interpretation, as well as established structures, implying that the way the future is imagined differs between historical periods, countries, and social groups. The discursive constitution of expectations is also structurally shaped through economic and social stratification.


Position in the stratified social order as well as economically or politically powerful actors and experts influence the construction of imagined futures and the alleged causal relations that underpin them. Just as a priest guides believers in religious practice, the power exercised by firms through advertising and lobbying, as well as the mass media, plays a hugely important role in the enunciation of economic imaginaries. The archaic world described by Durkheim lives on in capitalist modernity. If expectations are understood to be both contingent and dependent on collective processes influenced by culture, history, and power relations, then they are an inherently sociological phenomenon.


Moreover, the idea of fictional expectations is associated with a sociological understanding of action, because of its focus on the intersubjective processes by which expectations are formed and contested. Action in this context is not understood in the teleological sense, as driven by an end originating from an individual actor and in dependent of the process by which it is produced. Instead, action is seen in pragmatist terms, as a process in which ends and strategies are formed and revised based on contingent and changing interpretations of an emerging situation.