Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Imagining the collective future: a sociocultural perspective

Zittoun, Tania ; Gillespie, Alex

In: Imagining collective futures : Perspectives from social, cultural and political psychology, 2018, p. 15-37

The present chapter examines how groups imagine their future from a sociocultural perspective. First, we present our sociocultural model of imagination and its three dimensions, before building on it to account for how collectives imagine the future. We maintain that it is a mistake to assume that because imagination is “not real”, it cannot have “real” consequences. Imagination about the... Plus

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    Summary
    The present chapter examines how groups imagine their future from a sociocultural perspective. First, we present our sociocultural model of imagination and its three dimensions, before building on it to account for how collectives imagine the future. We maintain that it is a mistake to assume that because imagination is “not real”, it cannot have “real” consequences. Imagination about the future, we argue, is a central steering mechanism of individual and collective behaviour. Imagination about the future is often political precisely because it can have huge significance for the activities of a group or even a nation. Accordingly, we introduce a new dimension for thinking about collective imagination of the future— namely, the degree of centralization of imagining—and with it, identify a related aspect, its emotional valence. Based on two examples, we argue that collective imaginings have their own developmental trajectories as they move in time through particular social and political contexts. Consequently, we suggest that a sociocultural psychology of collective imagination of the future should not only document instances of collective imagining, but also account for these developmental trajectories— specifically, what social and political forces hinder and promote particular imaginings.