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Economic Futures: Imaginaries, Narratives and Calculation

17 mar 2016 09:00 - 18 mar 2016 17:00
Institut d'études avancées de Paris
Hôtel de Lauzun
17 quai d'Anjou
75004 Paris


How do economic actors make decisions when the future is indeterminate because it has yet to be created by the innovations they and others will make, or because it is so complex that it cannot be anticipated?Economists usually assume that expectations conform to certain canons of rationality and are based on probability calculations and the market elimination of systematic errors. By contrast, sociology focuses on social structures, cultural templates, institutions and power to explain economic outcomes but largely ignores the role played by actors’ expectations of the future. In neither discipline has there to date been much systematic investigation into how actors assess or navigate the future when faced with radical uncertainty.

The conference brings together a group of scholars who have worked on questions of future assessment under conditions of radical uncertainty from different perspectives and with different empirical applications. Their work focuses on investment processes, financial markets, innovation but also on instruments of future construction such as economic forecasting, economic theories, risk modeling, accounting technologies, business plans or other market narratives. The aim of the conference is to present a broad spectrum of work relating to future-oriented economic decision-making in conditions of uncertainty in order to get a better understanding of promising research questions and strategies.


Thursday, March 17

9 a.m. Welcome
Jens Beckert, Richard Bronk

Sessions – Group 1: Decision-Making in Uncertainty: How Narratives Shape Expectations and Behavior

9:15 a.m. Bread and Bullets
Dennis Snower (George Akerlof)
Commentator: Jens Beckert

10:15 a.m. Coffee

10:30 a.m. Arctic Futures: Scenario Crafting, Heritage and Nation Branding in the Shaping of the Arctic
Jenny Andersson
Commentator: Wade Jacoby

11:30 a.m. Decision-Making in Complex Adaptive Systems
Magda Fontana
Commentator: Richard Bronk

12:30 p.m. Lunch

Sessions – Group 2: Consensus Narratives and Shared Rules: Coordinating or Destabilizing the Unknown Future?

1:30 p.m. Tractable Future: Performative Registers of Monetary Policy
Douglas R. Holmes
Commentator: Richard Bronk

2:30 a.m. The Interactional Foundation of Economic Futures
Werner Reichmann
Commentator: Timur Ergen

3:30 p.m. Coffee

4 p.m. Uncertainty and the Dangers of Monocultures in Regulation, Analysis and Practice
Richard Bronk, Wade Jacoby
Commentator: Dennis Snower

7:30 p.m. Dinner

Friday, March 18

Sessions – Group 3: Conviction, Attention and the Performativity of Models in Financial Markets

9 a.m. Conviction Narratives
David Tuckett
Commentator: David Stark

10 a.m. Predicted Uncertainty, Volatility Calculus, and the Indeterminacy of the Future
Elena Esposito
Commentator: David Tuckett

11 a.m. Coffee

11:15 a.m. (De)valuing the Future: A Historical Sociology of Discounted Cash Flow Analysis
Liliana Doganova
Commentator: Elena Esposito

12:15 p.m. Attention Networks in Financial Markets
David Stark (Matteo Prato)
Commentator: Werner Reichmann

1:15 p.m. Lunch

Sessions – Group 4: The Performativity of Imagined Futures, Promising Options and Business Plans

2:15 p.m. The Performativity of Foresight
Harro van Lente
Commentator: Guus Dix

3:15 p.m. Coffee

3:30 p.m. Habitus and Prospectus: The Business Plans of Pierre Samuel and Éleuthère Irénée Dupont de Nemours (1797–1802)
Martin Giraudeau
Commentator: Harro van Lente

4:30 p.m. Concluding Remarks
Jens Beckert, Richard Bronk

End of the conference 5 p.m.

Atelier de recherche fermé au public.

Imagined futures: fictional expectations in economic decision-making
01 October 2012 - 30 June 2013
30 June 2013
18 Mar 2016 17:00
Jens Beckert
Conferences and workshops
Contemporary period (1789-…)
World or no region
Economics and finance