Critical Future Studies - A thematic Introduction


  • Michael Godhe Linköping University
  • Luke Goode





Our 2017 essay “Beyond Capitalist Realism – Why We Need Critical Future Studies” (Goode & Godhe 2017), published in this journal, was intended as both a provocation and an invitation to scholars concerned with the ways in which cultural texts not only represent the future, but also actively shape it by opening up or closing down imaginative possibilities. The essays collected in this special section are both responses to our invitation and provocations in their own right. From our point of view, they each take Critical Future Studies forward and collectively augur well for the further development of this field.

This introductory essay contains three sections. First, we briefly situate Critical Future Studies within an intellectual and historical context. In the following section we discuss some relevant scholarship published very recently in cognate fields (specifically Anticipation Studies and Sociology) and which are pertinent to Critical Future Studies as a developing field of study. In the final section, we introduce the articles contained in this this special section: six diverse contributions on topics including green capitalism, artificial intelligence and automation, science fiction, post-scarcity societies and the future of work, and socialist futures.

Author Biography

Michael Godhe, Linköping University

Senior Lecturer Culture and Media Production

Culture, Society, Media Production

Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture

Linköping University


Adam, Barbara and Chris Grove (2007): Future Matters: Action, Knowledge, Ethics, Leiden: Brill.

Attebery, Brian (2002): Decoding Gender in Science Fiction, New York: Routledge.

Bloch, Ernst (1995[1954]): The Principle of Hope, Volume One, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Bowler, Peter J. (2017): A History of the Future: Prophets of Progress from H.G. Wells to Isaac Asimov, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Frängsmyr, Tore (1990): Framsteg eller förfall: Framtidsbilder och utopier i västerländsk tanketradition, Stockholm: Allmänna Förlaget.

Godhe, Michael (2018): “’The Old Stories Had Become Our Prison’: Globalization and Identity Politics in John Barnes’s Science Fiction Novels A Million Open Doors and Earth Made of Glass”, Fafnir: Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, 5:1, forthcoming.

Goode, Luke and Michael Godhe (2017): “Beyond Capitalist Realism – Why We Need Critical Future Studies”, Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research, 9:1, 108-129.

Levitas, Ruth (2010): “Back to the Future: Wells, Sociology, Utopia and Method”, The Sociological Review, 58:4, 530-547.

Levitas, Ruth (2013): Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society, London: Palgrave.

Miller, Riel (2007): “Futures Literacy: A Hybrid Strategic Scenario Method”, Futures, 39:4, 341-362.

Miller, Riel (2018): Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century, London & New York: Routledge.

Panchasi, Roxanne (2009): Future Tense: The Culture of Anticipation in France between the Wars, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Poli, Roberto (2010), “The Many Aspects of Anticipation”, Foresight, 2010, 12:3, 7-17.

Schulz, Markus S. (2015): “Future Moves: Forward-Oriented Studies of Culture, Society, and Technology”, Current Sociology, 63:2, 129-139.

Srnicek, Nick and Alex Williams (2015): Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, London: Verso.

Son, Heonju (2015): “The History of Western Future Studies: An Exploration of the Intellectual Traditions and Three-Phase Periodization”, Futures, 66, 120-133.

Tutton, Richards (2017): “Wicked Futures: Meaning, Matter and the Sociology of the Future”, The Sociological Review, 65:3, 478-492.




How to Cite

Godhe, M. and Goode, L. (2018) “Critical Future Studies - A thematic Introduction”, Culture Unbound, 10(2), pp. 151–162. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.2018102151.



Critical Future Studies