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Title: The future imagined: exploring fiction as a means of reflecting on today’s grand societal challenges and tomorrow’s options
Authors: Bina, O.
Mateus, S.
Pereira, L.
Caffa, A.
Keywords: Cinema fiction
Literature fiction
Warning signals
Grand societal challenges
Science policy
Horizon 2020
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Abstract: European science policy (so-called Horizon 2020) is guided by Grand Societal Challenges (GSCs) with the explicit aim of shaping the future. In this paper we propose an innovative approach to the analysis and critique of Europe’s GSCs. The aim is to explore how speculative and creative fiction offer ways of embodying, telling, imagining, and symbolising ‘futures’, that can provide alternative frames and understandings to enrich the grand challenges of the 21st century, and the related rationale and agendas for ERA and H2020. We identify six ways in which filmic and literary representations can be considered creative foresight methods (i.e. through: creative input, detail, warning, reflection, critique, involvement) and can provide alternative perspectives on these central challenges, and warning signals for the science policy they inform. The inquiry involved the selection of 64 novels and movies engaging with notions of the future, produced over the last 150 years. Content analysis based on a standardised matrix of major themes and sub-domains, allows to build a hierarchy of themes and to identify major patterns of long-lasting concerns about humanity’s future. The study highlights how fiction sees oppression, inequality and a range of ethical issues linked to human and nature’s dignity as central to, and inseparable from innovation, technology and science. It concludes identifying warning signals in four major domains, arguing that these signals are compelling, and ought to be heard, not least because elements of such future have already escaped the imaginary world to make part of today’s experience. It identifies areas poorly defined or absent from Europe's science agenda, and argues for the need to increase research into human, social, political and cultural processes involved in techno-science endeavours.
Peer reviewed: yes
DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2016.05.009
ISSN: 0016-3287
Accession number: WOS:000395850200015
Appears in Collections:CIES-RI - Artigos em revista científica internacional com arbitragem científica

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