chapter  1
21 Pages

Governing and probing the future

The politics and science of prevision
WithAndreas Wenger, Ursula Jasper, Myriam Dunn Cavelty

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Politics and the wish to assemble future knowledge through scientific study are intimately interwoven processes. The desire to govern the future through science arose in parallel to the rise of the modern nation state and a more technocratic and scientific approach to public administration in the nineteenth century. With the dawn of modernity, foreseeing and preparing for possible future developments became a key task for policy-makers, bureaucrats and scholars alike. The status of the future as a point of orientation has remained contested, however. Governing the future is thus not a straightforward task, but fraught with epistemological and scientific, power-political and democratic as well as ethical questions. It is in this light that this introduction provides an account of varying imaginaries of a possible futures and of the possibilities of human control in different socio-spatial contexts. Subsequently, it briefly summarizes each contribution to the book and illustrates the underlying questions that weave the chapters together.