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Sociology of the Future

Sociology of the Future: Theory, Cases and Annotated Bibliography

Wendell Bell
James A. Mau
Copyright Date: 1971
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Sociology of the Future
    Book Description:

    Concerns itself with the future of sociology, and of all social science. The thirteen authors-among them Wendell Bell, Kai T. Erikson, Scott Greer, Robert Boguslaw, James Mau, and Ivar Oxaal-are oriented toward a redefinition of the role of the social scientist as advisor to policymakers and administrators in all major areas of social concern, for the purpose of studying and shaping the future. This book contains research strategies for such "futurologistic" study, theories on its merits and dangers, as well as an annotated bibliography of social science studies of the future.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-039-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)

    When I first heard of the. project that resulted in this volume, and discussed it with Professors Bell and Mau, I knew that it was something I wanted to encourage. It has been encouraged by the Russell Sage Foundation, but it has also been encouraged by me as a colleague. Indeed, I used many of the editorsʹ essential ideas for my own presidential address in 1966 to the American Sociological Association (ʺThe Utility of Utopiasʺ) and persuaded Professor Bell to present a plenary session paper at the same convention on ʺThe Future as the Cause of the Present.ʺ

    It was...

    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Part I Images of the Future

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 2-5)

      ʺChange in the modern era,ʺ as Wilbert E. Moore (1967 :161) has pointed out, is ʺcharacterized by two distinctive features: (1) Its magnitude has increased enormously. It is certainly more rapid in more places and more constant than ever before. (2) By any crude measurement, most contemporary social change is either deliberate or is the secondary consequence of deliberate change.ʺ Or, as Harold D. Lasswell (1966:161) has commented on the same facts, ʺmankind is passing from theprimacyof thepastto theprimacy of expectations of vast future change.ʺ In ʺImages of the Future: Theory and Research Strategies,ʺ Wendell...

    • Images of the Future: Theory and Research Strategies
      (pp. 6-44)

      In his presidential address to the American Sociological Association, Wilbert E. Moore (1966b :765) raised the following questions:

      Have we, in short, any obligation as social scientists to start taking account not only of the changeful quality of social life but also of the fact that some portion of that change is deliberate? And do we, still as social scientists, have anything positive to add to the fulfillment of human hopes for the future, or are we always fated to counsel the eager traveler that ʺyou canʹt get there from hereʺ?

      Moore goes on to say that social scientistsdo...

    • A Paradigm for the Analysis of Time Perspectives and Images of the Future
      (pp. 45-56)

      Paradigms may serve a variety of functions, from simply bringing assumptions into the open to promoting cumulative theoretic interpretation. They may be no more pretentious than an outline, or they may constitute a systematic theory in which every concept is logically related to others in the system. In between, a paradigm may be viewed as ʺa device for instituting systematic description,ʺ (Gross, 1959 :78). Their general purpose is to provide a fieldglass not a blinder, a tentative tool not an absolute formula (Merton, 1957 :16). In this chapter we offer a paradigm of the ʺin-betweenʺ type as a tentative tool...

  7. Part II Constructing the Past and Making the Future

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 58-60)

      The two chapters constituting Part II each contribute a distinctive, though mutually reinforcing, view of time perspectives. The first, by Kai T. Erikson, dealing with the historical perspective, may at first seem a strange contribution to a book on the sociology of the future. Yet any doubts about its relevance are quickly dispelled. Past, present, and future are interconnected; social change and the dynamic orientation are concerns of historians; and some of the methodological questions that historians ask are directly applicable to the nature of social inquiry required by the study of the future.

      Erikson begins by saying that the...

    • Sociology and the Historical Perspective
      (pp. 61-77)

      The relationship between sociology and history has interested scholars from both disciplines for a long time. By now a considerable library of materials is available on the subject, ranging from involved philosophical essays on the nature of the borderline separating the two fields to ceremonial addresses of various kinds urging a greater volume of traffic across that line. Literature from the sociological side of the border, at least, has been almost unanimous in its insistence that sociologists should devote more attention to history-so much so that the argument would appear to have lost much of its urgency for simple lack...

    • Utopia Construction and Future Forecasting: Problems, Limitations, and Relevance
      (pp. 78-106)

      Utopias characteristically have emphasized new visions of social order, whether their creators lived before or during the Great Age of Science, which for purposes of convenience only we can regard as beginning with the twentieth century. An emphasis on social order is almost by definition the raison dʹêtre of the utopian dream. This emphasis can be seen in such disparate utopias as those of More (1935) and Bellamy (1967), separated by approximately 372 years, or those of Wells (1967) and Skinner (1948), separated, approximately, by only 44 years. I am referring only to utopias, taken as serious projections of desired,...

  8. Part III Some Images of the Future in Sociology and Psychoanalysis

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 108-112)

      In ʺThe Myth of a Value-Free Psychotherapy,ʺ Pauline Bart applies our paradigm for the analysis of time perspectives and images of the future given in Part I to various schools of thought in psychotherapy. She shows that the different schools have different images of man, different concepts of society, and different time foci. Images of the future, especially images of the ideal future of the patient, also differ markedly. The traditional psychodynamic image of the future contains the implied assumption that the future will consist of more of the same. Based on an economy of abundance, the existential-self-actualizing school sees...

    • The Myth of a Value-Free Psychotherapy
      (pp. 113-159)

      Two psychiatric concepts—depression and fantasy—are related to oneʹs image of the future. Depression can be considered a stage in which the individual has no hope that conditions will be better in times to come. Indeed, in a study of middle-aged women hospitalized for mental illness (Bart, 1967), I found thatimpendingrole loss was as closely associated with depression as present role loss. On the other hand, an optimistic image of the future may be considered a fantasy. Frank (1965) has addressed himself to the patientʹs view of the future; he conceives one of the functions of psychotherapy...

    • Images of Future Leisure: Continuities in Changing Expectations
      (pp. 160-187)

      Images of future leisure seem to be distorted reflections from our mirrors of the past. In the past leisure was an elusive dream of man, while the enlightened modern has made leisure standard fare in our literary cafeteria of despair. Dennis Gabor (1964) ominously tells us that along with nuclear destruction and overpopulation, leisure is a major threat to civilization. And he is supported by a host of books and articles that warn—Leisure in America—Blessing or Curse?, ʺCrises in Outdoor Recreation,ʺ Work and Leisure, A Contemporary Social Problem; The Challenge of Leisure (Charlesworth et al., 1964; Clawson, 1959;...

    • Images of Canadaʹs Future in John Porterʹs The Vertical Mosaic
      (pp. 188-207)

      The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the time perspectives contained in a contemporary sociological work, the dimensions and impact of which are generally considered to be of major proportions. John Porter won the MacIver Award in 1966 ʺfor his comprehensive analysis of stratification in Canadian society, and his contribution to macrosociology.ʺ At the time, the MacIver Award was the only award of its kind given by the American Sociological Association and was bestowed upon ʺthe author of a publication which contributed in an outstanding degree to the progress of sociology during the two preceding years.ʺ Porterʹs award-winning book...

    • In the Mirrors of Sociology: Images of American and Soviet Society
      (pp. 208-234)

      Sociology holds a mirror to society. At times it may be a distorting mirror in which selected aspects of social existence shrink or expand; it may often reflect the unimportant. It may tell the beholder that it is ʺthe most beautiful of allʺ or confront him with a collection of hideous, previously unnoticed features. Sociology can lavishly praise a particular society or delightedly wallow in its defects. Even its severest critics will grant that it does hold up a mirror, no worse and possibly better than those provided by other forms of analysis. Perhaps every society produces the kind of...

  9. Part IV Research and Policy:: Images of the Future in Action

    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 236-239)

      The four chapters in Part IV deal with research and policy, with images of the future in action. The first is by Robert Boguslaw, who discusses perceptions of social reality, values, decision-making, and social action in an evaluation of the limitations of conventional planning perspectives. It is difficult for social planners to break out of the present, he says, because they tend to be ʺreasonableʺ and thus a part of existing value and goal structures. Yet creative solutions for contemporary social difficulties may necessarily involve significant alterations in existing goals and perceptions of reality. Technical elites may not be able...

    • The Design Perspective in Sociology
      (pp. 240-258)

      I should like to begin this chapter with what for sociologists is perhaps a truism that may not even be ʺtrue.ʺ I plan to examine the implications of this truism for the work that sociologists do, and try to trace its relevance and the relevance of some other matters to things that are happening in the contemporary world. I hope to be able to show why it is that the work many sociologists are doing is becoming increasingly less relevant to the contemporary world and to the world of the future, although sociology as an intellectual enterprise has possibly never...

    • Policy and the Urban Future
      (pp. 259-270)

      It is my assumption that images of the future determine present actions. They may or may not determine the nature of the future—that depends upon a much more complex set of circumstances. But willy-nilly, much of our behavior is postulated upon images of a possible and/or desirable future. Furthermore, it seems useful to assume that certain assumptions about the immutable, the changeless and inescapable, limit and to a degree determine images of a possible and/or desirable future. Thus images of the future invasion and decline of a neighborhood influence the behavior of investor, dealer, and seller of real estate:...

    • Images of the Future and Organizational Change: The Case of New York University
      (pp. 271-293)

      Most studies on organizational change have focused on ʺrational planningʺ as it is implemented in business organizations. Although such studies often mention future-oriented goals that guide the development of rational plans, such future orientations themselves are seldom critical foci of research. One exception was Philip Selznickʹs (1948) work on the Tennessee Valley Authority, in which he devoted considerable attention to the image of the future that the TVA articulated, and the consequences of putting that image into practice. Also, Charles Perrow (1961), among others, has dealt with the problem of goal-setting in organizations, but the systematic analysis of future images...

    • Methodology and the Quest for Utopia: A Case Study from EI Dorado
      (pp. 294-323)

      This chapter is really a methodological appendix in search of a monograph. My purpose in writing it is not primarily to add another item to the confessional literature in sociology, although it probably fits that genre of professional writing closer than any other.¹ My main concern—which arises out of long-standing association with the spirit of the ideas expressed by the editors of this volume²—will be to explore, in a concrete setting, the relevance and potential hazards of the research strategies and directives they outline in Part I. This will be done by briefly relating my personal experiences as...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 324-336)

    In the foregoing pages, we have tried to show that the study of the future should have a place of priority on the sociological agenda and that a sociology of the future is emerging. We have given some theories, methods, and philosophies involved in it. We have adopted the viewpoint of the sociology of knowledge, both that experience shapes thought and that thought shapes experience, which is especially evident in the perceptive analyses of Bart, Burch, Boldt, and Hollander. Also, we have illustrated by specific case studies some of the results of conscious efforts to consider the implications of sociology...

    (pp. 337-338)
  12. Studies of the Future: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography
    (pp. 339-454)
  13. Name Index
    (pp. 455-460)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 461-464)