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Selling the FutureThe Perils of Predicting Global Politics$
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Ariel Colonomos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190603649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190603649.001.0001

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The Blinkers of the Social Sciences

The Blinkers of the Social Sciences

Chapter:
(p.61) 3 The Blinkers of the Social Sciences
Source:
Selling the Future
Author(s):

Ariel Colonomos

, Gregory Elliott
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190603649.003.0004

This chapter studies the role of several epistemic communities in the realm of area studies—in particular Sovietology, Middle Eastern studies, and China studies—when these communities produce knowledge about the future. Future claims made by academics are predominantly linear (Chapter 2) and predictions about radical junctures—sudden changes in a political trajectory—are very rare. Within these communities whose members can be counted by the thousands, great conformity towards dominant and consensual paradigms prevails and scholars tend to rally around the study of the same issues as they want to anticipate the social demand. This is the ultimate paradox of experts’ future telling, building linear and consensual claims about the future, which in turn make radical changes in political trajectories all the more surprising (chapters 4 and 5).

Keywords:   Future, Modernization theory, Developmentalism, Democratization, Transitional justice, Area studies, Comparative politics, Sovietology, Middle eastern studies, China

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