Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics

Jens Beckert

This research project starts out from the hypothesis that decisions made by intentionally rational actors under conditions of uncertainty are based on "fictions." Fictions are images of a future state of the world and the causal mechanisms that lead to this state. Actors are motivated by this imagined future and organize their current actions accordingly. Since these mental images are not tethered to reality, fictionality is also a source of creativity. The concept of fictionality can lead to a better understanding of the microfoundations of economic dynamics. From the beginning, there have been publications based on this project, including a monograph published in 2016. Future publications will focus on conceptualizing particular aspects of fictionality and elaborating on its theoretical possiblities by looking at the historical development of fictional expectations, their origins, their social embeddedness, and the conditions under which a given fiction can gain credibility.

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