Making the Unknown Actionable. Uncertainty, Imaginaries and Calculation in the Economy
Prof Jens Beckert, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
25 May 2021
In a capitalist system, consumers, investors, and corporations orient their activities toward a future that is open and uncertain. How do intentionally rational actors make decisions when the future is unknown? In the talk, I attempt to demonstrate how ‘fictional expectations’ drive modern economies-or throw them into crisis when the imagined futures fail to materialize. Collectively held images of how the future will unfold are critical because they free economic actors from paralyzing doubt, enabling them to commit resources and coordinate decisions even if those expectations prove inaccurate. Since they are not confined to empirical reality, fictional expectations are also a source of creativity in the economy. The talk is based on my book “Imagined Futures. Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics” (HUP 2016) and the volume “Uncertain Futures. Uncertainty, Imaginaries and Calculation in the Economy” (OUP 2018), co-edited with Richard Bronk.
This seminar was part of the Making the unknown knowable seminar series. Click here to read more