Management Seminars: Daniel Welch (University of Manchester)

5 February 2019, 12.00 PM - 5 February 2019, 1.30 PM

Daniel Welch (University of Manchester)

G.15 15-19 Tyndalls Park Road

Title: Sustainable Consumption Institute & Sociology, University of Manchester 

Abstract:

The presentation will discuss work in progress of the early stage of a two-year research project (Sept 2018—Aug 2020): ‘Imagined Futures of Consumption’ (ESRC New Investigators Grant ES/R007942/1). Imagined futures of consumption have played an important role in economic and political imaginaries since the end of the Second World War, critically in the form of the promise of ‘prosperity for all’ realised through mass consumption in the consumer society. In the wake of the global financial crisis, with the collapse in faith in expectations of continuously rising living standards in the USA and Western Europe, and fears of secular economic stagnation and ecological catastrophe, the C20th imaginary of consumer society is fundamentally challenged. This opens up cultural and social space for both competing capitalist imagined futures of consumption and alternative or anti-capitalist imaginaries. It is within this social and political-economic context that the project will explore the role of imagined futures of consumption in processes of social and political contestation and legitimation, and how such futures shape, and are shaped by, social processes (Mische 2009). The first core empirical component of the project will explore lay expectations of the future of consumption through a Mass Observation Archive Directive (the data is available from the 1st February!). The second core empirical component will involve participant observation with professional ‘futurists’. Futurists in think tanks, consultancies, corporations and NGOs, as well as social movement organisations, produce imagined futures of consumption, from visions of future (or post-)consumer society to scenarios of specific systems of provision, materialised in reports and other media. Given the early stage of the project, the presentation will reflect on the central ideas behind the project and issues of research design.

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