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Governing the future: science, policy and public participation in the construction of the long term in the Netherlands and Sweden

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Abstract:

This paper is a historical study of two institutions devoted to the problem of the future – the Dutch WRR (the Scientific Council for Government) and the Swedish Secretariat for Futures Studies – both created in 1972. While there is a growing interest in the social sciences for prediction, future imaginaries and the governance of risk, few studies have examined historically the integration of the category of the ‘future’ or the ‘long term’ in political systems in the postwar years, a period in which this category took on specific meaning and importance. We suggest that governing the long-term posed fundamental problems to particular societal models of expertise, decision-making and public participation. We argue that the scientific and political claim to govern the future was fundamentally contested, and that social struggle around the role and content of predictive expertise determined how the long term was incorporated into different systems of knowledge production and policy-making.

Keywords: Sweden; forecasting; futures studies; planning; prediction; the Netherlands

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07341512.2014.932563

Publication date: 2014-04-03

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