Thursday, October 24, 2019
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street
Uncertain Futures: Imaginaries, Narratives, and Calculation in the Economy
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 talk will focus on the role played by imaginaries and narratives as well as calculation, and argue 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 discussion will also explore the dangers of analytical monocultures and discourses of best practice in conditions of uncertainty, and examine the link between uncertainty and some aspects of populism.