Predictions in International Affairs

21 January 2010 par Communication scientifique

Practitioners and theorists of international relations are both confronted to a challenge, that is becoming more and more important. Predicting the future has always been one of the goals and constrains of the “art of politics”. Since the early Greeks who established rules on what should be the role of “oracles” to prediction companies and business consultants whose task is to provide information to policy-makers that elaborate their future oriented strategies, mastering uncertainty has always had a great appeal in power circles (let alone when political leaders consult astrologists…). Professional and governmental networks based on expertise have been traditional players in the politcal arena during the Cold War such as the Club of Rome.

From a theoretical standpoint, the stakes are also very high. The classical design of social sciences is explanatory, traditionally aiming at explaining the past or the present. However, some scholars argue that anticipating the future is also part of a social sciences theoretical framework applied to international affairs, whether it is sociology, economy or international relations aiming at establishing laws of behavior and structural patterns that both explain the past and could predict the future.

This research program discusses the social integration role forecasters play at the global level. Telling the future creates social bonds that are a global path to the future. Forecasters and those who consult them share a community of values. As forecasting creates and echoes social expectations, it is at the very center of the elaboration of social norms. Imagining possible worlds is also a potent drive of the formation of interests.

Ariel Colonomos


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