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Governing anticipation: UNESCO making humankind futures literate
Stockholm University, Sweden.
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Sociology. Stockholm University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6797-3892
2023 (English)In: Journal of Organizational Ethnography, ISSN 2046-6749, E-ISSN 2046-6757, Vol. 12, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose This paper explores practices of foresight within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) program Futures Literacy, as a form of transnational governmentality-founded on the interests of "using the future" by "emancipating" the minds of humanity. Design/methodology/approach The paper draws on ethnographic material gathered over five years within the industry of futures consultancy, including UNESCO and its network of self-recognized futurists. The material consists of written sources, participant observation in on-site and digital events and workshops, and interviews. Findings Building on Foucault's (1991) concept of governmentality, which refers to the governing of governing and how subjects politically come into being, this paper critically examines the UNESCO Futures Literacy program by answering questions on ontology, deontology, technology and utopia. It shows how the underlying rationale of the Futures Literacy program departs from an ontological premise of anticipation as a fundamental capacity of biological life, constituting an ethical substance that can be worked on and self-controlled. This rationale speaks to the mandate of UNESCO, to foster peace in our minds, but also to the governing of governing at the individual level. Originality/value In the intersection between the growing literature on anticipation and research concerning governmentality the paper adds ethnographically based knowledge to the field of transnational governance. Earlier ethnographic studies of UNESCO have mostly focused upon its role for cultural heritage, or more broadly neoliberal forms of governing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2023. Vol. 12, no 1
National Category
Pedagogical Work Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-50010DOI: 10.1108/JOE-10-2021-0055ISI: 000815260500001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85132899526OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-50010DiVA, id: diva2:1700567
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, NHS14-2044:1Available from: 2022-10-03 Created: 2022-10-03 Last updated: 2023-06-13Bibliographically approved

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Sörbom, Adrienne

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • harvard-anglia-ruskin-university
  • apa-old-doi-prefix.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-harvard.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-oxford.csl
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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