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An introduction to Uncertain Futures

Beckert, Jens and Bronk, Richard (2018) An introduction to Uncertain Futures. In: Beckert, Jens and Bronk, Richard, (eds.) Uncertain Futures: Imaginaries, Narratives, and Calculation in the Economy. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9780198820802

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oso/9780198820802.003.0001


This chapter provides a theoretical framework for considering how imaginaries and narratives interact with calculative devices to structure expectations and beliefs in the economy. It analyses the nature of uncertainty in innovative market economies and examines how economic actors use imaginaries, narratives, models, and calculative practices to coordinate and legitimize action, determine value, and establish sufficient conviction to act despite the uncertainty they face. Placing the themes of the volume in the context of broader trends in economics and sociology, the chapter argues that, in conditions of widespread radical uncertainty, there is no uniquely rational set of expectations, and there are no optimal strategies or objective probability functions; instead, expectations are often structured by contingent narratives or socially constructed imaginaries. Moreover, since expectations are not anchored in a pre-existing future reality but have an important role in creating the future, they become legitimate objects of political debate and crucial instruments of power in markets and societies.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Oxford University Press
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 13:30
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2021 07:28

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