April 28, 2009

Social Predictions, Institutional Design and Prestige Loops

Richard Henshel's Contribution to Future Studies
  • Paul Dragos Aligica

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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The article is both a contribution to the intellectual history of the field and a reminder that future studies have always been concerned not only with the epistemics and the cognitive procedures regarding the future but also with the impact of ideas on the very unfolding of the future. Cases when social predictions, by the mere fact of being made public, change the situations they have predicted, are an important challenge for social theory and institutional design. Richard Henshel dedicated an important part of his work to their study. The paper starts by mapping the conceptual contours of the problem. Then it outlines the ways in which various authors have dealt with its challenge, thereby putting the distinctiveness of Henshel's unique contribution in a clearer perspective. The paper continues by presenting Henshel's main arguments as they were developed around the key concept of 'prestige loop' as well as some of the implications of the fact that social predictions and 'prestige loops' not only challenge the way we understand the relationship between social theory and its practical applications, but also the ways we understand the very nature of applied social science and its relationship with futures studies.

Read the article at ScienceDirect.

Citation: Aligica, Paul Dragos. "Social Predictions, Institutional Design and Prestige Loops: Richard Henshel's Contribution to Future Studies." Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning and Futures Studies 41, no. 3 (April 2009): 147-155.