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Humanity 3000: a comparative analysis of methodological approaches to forecasting the long-term

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Abstract:

PurposeBased on a report to the non-profit organization, The Foundation for the Future, this article aims to review methodological approaches to forecasting the long-term future. Design/methodology/approachThis is not an analysis of the particular content of the next 500 or 1,000 years but a comparative analysis of methodologies and epistemological approaches best utilized in long-range foresight work. It involves an analysis of multiple methods to understand long-range foresight; literature review; and critical theory. FindingsMethodologies that forecast the long-term future are likely to be more rewarding ‐ in terms of quality, insight, and validity ‐ if they are eclectic and layered, go back in time as far as they go in the future, that contextualize critical factors and long-term projections through a nuanced reading of macrohistory, and focus on epistemic change, the ruptures that reorder how we know the world. Research limitations/implicationsThe article provides frameworks to study the long-range future. It gives advice on how best to design research projects that are focused on the long-term. Limitations include: no quantitative studies were used and the approach while epistemologically sensitive remains bounded by Western frameworks of knowledge. Practical implicationsThe article provides methodological and epistemological guidance as to the best methods for long range foresight. It overviews strengths and weaknesses of various approaches. Originality/valueThis is the only research project to analyze methodological aspects of 500-1,000 year forecasting. It includes conventional technocratic views of the future as well as Indic and feminist perspectives. It is among the few studies to link macrohistory and epistemic analysis to study the long-term.

Keywords: Causal layered analysis; Forecasting; Forward planning; Long-range foresight; Macrohistory; Pitirim Sorokin's pendulum; Post-structuralism; Sarkar's social cycle

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/14636681211269888

Publication date: 2012-08-24

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