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Uncertain futures: imaginaries, narratives and calculative technologies

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  • Bronk, Richard
  • Beckert, Jens

Abstract

Dynamic capitalist economies are characterised by relentless innovation and novelty and hence exhibit an indeterminacy that cannot be reduced to measurable risk. How then do economic actors form expectations and decide how to act despite this uncertainty? This paper focuses on the role played by imaginaries, narratives, and calculative technologies, and argues that the market impact of shared calculation devices, social narratives, and contingent imaginaries underlines the rationale for a new form of ‘narrative economics’ and a theory of fictional (rather than rational) expectations. When expectations cannot be anchored in objective probability functions, the future belongs to those with the market, political, or rhetorical power to make their models or stories count. The paper also explores the dangers of analytical monocultures and the discourse of best practice in conditions of uncertainty, and considers the link between uncertainty and some aspects of populism.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronk, Richard & Beckert, Jens, 2019. "Uncertain futures: imaginaries, narratives and calculative technologies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 103091, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:103091
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/103091/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bronk,Richard, 2009. "The Romantic Economist," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521735155, November.
    2. Donald MacKenzie, 2006. "An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262134608, December.
    3. Bronk,Richard, 2009. "The Romantic Economist," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521513845, November.
    4. Richard Bronk, 2013. "Reflexivity unpacked: performativity, uncertainty and analytical monocultures," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(4), pages 343-349, December.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Makovicky, Nicolette & Henig, David, 2022. "Economies and favours: What's in a word?," economic sociology. perspectives and conversations, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, vol. 23(3), pages 42-48.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    calculation; fictional expectations; future; imaginaries; innovation; narrative economics; uncertainty;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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