The agency of the futures
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Copyright (c) 2022 Giacomo Bazzani
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Despite the centrality of projective reasoning for understanding human agency capacity, its role is often disregarded in agency research. Agency capacity cannot be reduced to a past legacy, nor to a rational model of free will. The article describes how the future is a crucial form of temporality of modern times that shapes social dynamics and agency capacity. The role played by projective reasoning emerges when the routine is broken, allowing for the opening of the horizon of possibilities that is a precondition for projective and deliberative agency. The article describes how each of the constitutive elements of projective reasoning, that is, expectations, imaginaries and narratives of the future, can influence real agency achievements, with examples from life-course dynamics and the sustainability transition. Futures can have ambivalent effects: they can either hinder or enable agency achievements. In the conclusion, social constraints on projective reasoning are discussed considering its cultural embeddedness and the recent acceleration of social transformations as a source of increased uncertainty.