The Future of the World: Futurology, Futurists, and the Struggle for the Post Cold War Imagination

Jenny Andersson

August 01, 2018

MPIfG Book


Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018
288 pages
ISBN 978-0-1988-1433-7 (hardcover)

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Andersson, Jenny
The Future of the World: Futurology, Futurists, and the Struggle for the Post Cold War Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.


The Future of the World is devoted to the intriguing field of study which emerged after World War Two, futurism or futurology. Jenny Andersson explains how futurist scholars and researchers imagined the Cold War and post Cold War world and the tools and methods they would use to influence and change that world.
Futurists were a motley crew of Cold War warriors, nuclear scientists, journalists, and peace activists. Some argued it should be a closed sphere of science defined by delimited probabilities. They were challenged by alternative notions of the future as a potentially open realm.
Futurism also drew on an eclectic range of repertoires, some of which were deduced from positivist social science, mathematics, and nuclear physics, and some of which sprung from alternative forms of knowledge in science fiction, journalism, or religion.
These different forms of prediction laid very different claims to how accurately futures could be known, and what kind of control could be exerted over what was yet to come. The Future of the World carefully examines these different engagements with the future, and inscribes them in the intellectual history of the post war period. Using unexplored archival collections, The Future of the World reconstructs the Cold War networks of futurologists and futurists.


1    A New History of The Future? From Conceptual History to Intellectual World History
2    The Future as Moral Imperative: Foundations of Futurism
3    Futures of Liberalism: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and Futurology as a Transnational Space
4    The Future as Social Technology: Prediction and the Rise of Futurology
5    Predicting the Future of American Society: From RAND to the Commission for the Year 2000
6    Bridging the Iron Curtain: Futurology as Dissidence and Control
7    The Future of the World: The World Futures Studies Federation and the Future as Counter Expertise
8    The Futurists: Spreading Futurology to the World


Jenny Andersson

Jenny Andersson holds a PhD in economic history from Uppsala University in Sweden. She is currently a scholar with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and based at Sciences Po in Paris, where she also co-directs the Max Planck Sciences Po Center. She has worked on the intellectual history of contemporary social democracy, and more recently, on the history of future research and concepts of the future in the post war era. is a policy advisor at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies in Brussels and associated research fellow at Sciences Po Paris. Her research on the politics of financial markets in the US and the EU was awarded the Research Award by the Erasmus academic network on Parliamentary Democracy in Europe (PADEMIA) and the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society.

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