Causal layered analysis is offered as a new futures research
method. It utility is not in predicting the future but in creating
transformative spaces for the creation of alternative futures. Causal
layered analysis consists of four levels: the litany, social causes,
discourse/worldview and myth/metaphor.
The challenge is to conduct research that moves up and down these
layers of analysis and thus is inclusive of different ways of knowing.
the context of using poststructuralism as a research method, this article
introduces a new futures research method - causal layered analysis (CLA).
Causal layered analysis is concerned less with predicting a particular
future and more with opening up the present and past to create alternative
futures. It focuses less on
the horizontal spatiality of futures - in contrast to techniques such as
emerging issues analysis, scenarios and backcasting - and more on the
vertical dimension of futures studies, of layers of analysis. Causal
layered analysis opens up space for the articulation of constitutive
discourses, which can then be shaped as scenarios.
Rick Slaughter considers it a paradigmatic method that reveals deep
worldview committments behind surface phenomena.
Writes Slaughter, "Causal layered analysis ... provides a
richer account of what is being studied than the more common empiricist or
predictive orientation which merely `skims the surface'. But because
mastery of the different layers calls for critical and hermeneutic skills
that originate in the humanities, some futures practitioners may find the
method challenging at first.
article hopes to reduce the difficulties involved in understanding and
using causal layered analysis by providing a methodological perspective to
the context of critical futures research, namely, poststructuralism.
layered analysis has been successfully used in a variety of workshops and
futures courses in the last six years. It is especially useful in
workshops with individuals either of different cultures or different
approaches to solving problems. It
is best used prior to scenario building as it allows a vertical space for
scenarios of different categories.
of the benefits of CLA are:
Expands the range and richness of scenarios;
When used in a workshop setting, it leads to the inclusion of
different ways of knowing
Appeals to and can be used by a wider range of individuals as it
incorporates non-textual and poetic/artistic expression in the futures
Layers participant's positions (conflicting and harmonious ones);
Moves the debate/discussion beyond the superficial and obvious to
the deeper and marginal;
Allows for a range of transformative actions;
Leads to policy actions that can be informed by alternative layers
Reinstates the vertical in social analysis, ie from postmodern
relativism to global ethics;
layered analysis can be seen as an effort to use poststructuralism, not
just as an epistemological framework - as developed by thinkers such as
Michel Foucault - but as a research method, as a way to conduct inquiry
into the nature of past, present and future.
of futures research
earlier articles, among other mapping schemes,
I have divided futures studies into three overlapping research dimensions:
empirical, interpretive and critical.
Each dimension has different assumptions about the real, about truth,
about the role of the subject, about the nature of the universe, and about
the nature of the future.
My own preference has been approaches that use all three - that
contextualize data (the predictive) with the meanings (interpretive) we
give them, and then locate these in various historical structures of
power/knowledge - class, gender, varna
and episteme (the critical).
layered analysis is well situated in critical futures research.
This tradition is less concerned with disinterest, as in the
empirical, or with creating mutual understanding, as in the interpretive,
but with creating distance from current categories.
This distance allows us to see current social practices as fragile,
as particular, and not as universal categories of thought - they are seen
as discourse, a term similar to paradigm but inclusive of epistemological
the poststructural critical approach, the task is not prediction or
comparison (as in the interpretive) but one of making units of analysis
problematic. The task is not so much to better define the future but
rather, at some level, to "undefine" the future.
For example, of importance are not population forecasts but how the
category of "population" has become historical valorised in
discourse; for example, why population instead of community or people, we
a broader political view, we can also query why population is being
predicted anyway? Why are growth rates more important than levels of
consumption? The role of the state and other forms of power such as
religious institutions in creating authoritative discourses - in
naturalizing certain questions and leaving unproblematic others - is
central to understanding how a particular future has become hegemonic.
But more than forms of power, are epistemes or structures of
knowledge which frame what is knowable and what is not, which define and
bind intelligibility. Thus,
while structures and institutions such as the modern state are useful
tools for analysis, they are seen not as universal but as particular to
history, civilization and episteme (the knowledge boundaries that frame
our knowing). They too are situated.
poststructural approach attempts to make problematic trend or events or
events given to us in the futures literature and not only to discern their
class basis as in conventional neo-Marxian critical research.
The issue is not only what are other events/trends that could have
been put forth, but how an issue has been constructed as an event or trend
in the first place as well as the "cost" of that particular
social construction - what paradigm is privileged by the nomination of a
trend or event as such.
other ways of knowing, particularly categories of knowledge from other
civilizations, is one of the most useful ways to create a distance from
the present. For example, in our population example, we can query
"civilization", asking how do Confucian, Islamic, Pacific or
Indic civilizations constitute the population discourse? Scenarios about
the future of population become far more problematic since the underlying
category of the scenario, in this case population, is contested. At issue
is how enumeration - the counting of people - has affected people's
conception of time and relations with self, other and state.
goal of critical research is thus to disturb present power relations
through making problematic our categories and evoking other places or
scenarios of the future. Through
this historical, future and civilizational distance, the present becomes
less rigid, indeed, it becomes remarkable.
This allows the spaces of reality to loosen and the new
possibilities, ideas and structures, to emerge.
The issue is less what is the truth but how truth functions in
particular policy settings, how truth is evoked, who evokes it, how it
circulates, and who gains and loses by particular nominations of what is
true, real and significant.
this approach, language is not symbolic but constitutive of reality.
This is quite different from the empirical domain wherein language
is seen as transparent, merely in a neutral way describing reality, or as
in the interpretive, where language is opaque, coloring reality in
particular ways. By moving up and down levels of analysis, CLA brings in
these different epistemological positions but sorts them out at different
levels. The movement up and
down is critical otherwise a causal layered analysis will remain only
concerned with better categories and not wiser policies.
By moving back up to the litany level from the deeper layers of
discourse and metaphor, more holistic policies should ideally result.
to interpretive and critical approach is the notion of civilizational
futures research. Civilizational research makes problematic current
categories since they are often based on the dominant civilization (the
West in this case). It informs us that behind the level of empirical
reality is cultural reality and behind that is worldview.
the postmodern/poststructural turn in the social sciences has been
discussed exhaustively in many places,
my effort is to simplify these complex social theories and see if
poststructuralism can be used as a method, even if it is considered
anti-method by strict "non-practitioners".
poststructural futures toolbox
first term in a poststructural futures toolbox is deconstruction. In this
we take a text (here meaning anything that can be critiqued - a movie, a
book, a worldview, a person - something or someone that can be read) and
break apart its components, asking what is visible and what is invisible?
Research questions that emerge from this perspective include:
is privileged at the level of knowledge? Who gains at
economic, social and other levels? Who is silenced? What is
the politics of truth?
terms of futures studies, we ask: which future is privileged?
Which assumptions of the future are made preferable?
second concept is genealogy. This is history; not a continuous history of
events and trends, but more a history of paradigms, if you will, of
discerning which discourses have been hegemonic and how the term under
study has travelled through these various discourses.
Thus for Nietzche, it was not so much an issue of what is the
moral, but a genealogy of the moral: how and when the moral becomes
contentious and through which discourses.
discourses have been victorious in constituting the present?
How have they travelled through history?
have been the points in which the issue has become important
might be the genealogies of the future?
third crucial term is distance. Again,
this is to differentiate between the disinterest of empiricism and the
mutuality of interpretative research.
Distancing provides the theoretical link between poststructural
thought and futures studies. Scenarios become not forecasts but images of
the possible that critique the present, that make it remarkable, thus
allowing other futures to emerge. Distancing can be accomplished by
utopias as well - "perfect", "no", or far away places
- other spaces.
scenarios make the present remarkable? Make it unfamiliar?
Strange? Denaturalize it?
these scenarios in historical space (the futures that could
have been) or in present or future space?
fourth term is "alternative pasts and futures". While futures
studies has focused only on alternative futures, within the poststructural
critical framework, just as the future is problematic, so is the past. The
past we see as truth is in fact the particular writing of history, often
by the victors of history. The
questions that flow from this perspective are as below:
PASTS AND FUTURES
interpretation of past is valorized? What histories make the
present problematic? Which vision of the future is used to
maintain the present? Which undo the unity of the present?
last concept - reordering knowledge - brings a different dimension to the
future and is similar to much of the work being done in civilizational
Reordering knowledge is similar to deconstruction and genealogy in that it
undoes particular categories, however, it focuses particularly on how
certain categories such as "civilization" or "stages in
history" order knowledge.
does the ordering of knowledge differ across civilization,
gender and episteme? What or Who is othered? How does it
denaturalize current orderings, making them peculiar instead
five concepts are part of a poststructural futures toolbox.
There is a strong link, of course, to other futures methods.
Emerging issues analysis, 
for example, at one level predicts issues outside of conventional
knowledge categories but it does so by disturbing conventional categories,
by making them problematic; it reorders knowledge. For example, the notion
of the "rights of robots" forces us to rethink rights, seeing
them not as universal but as historical and political, as hard fought
political and conceptual battles. It also forces us to rethink
intelligence and sentience - posing the question what is life? Thus, a
futures method such as emerging issues analysis, conventionally used to
identify trends and problems in their emergent phase, should not merely be
seen as a predictive method; it can also be a critical one.
a civilizational perspective, it is crucial to explore the guiding
metaphors and myths we use to envision the future. This perspective takes
a step back from the actual future to the deeper assumptions about the
future being discussed, specifically the "non-rational." For
example, particular scenarios have specific assumptions about the nature
of time, rationality and agency. Believing
the future is like a roll of dice is quite different from the Arab saying
of the future: "Trust in Allah but tie your camel" which differs
again from the American vision of the future as unbounded, full of choice
and opportunity. For the Confucian, choice and opportunity exist in the
context of family and ancestors and not merely as individual decisions.
workshops on the future outside of the West, conventional metaphors such
as a fork in the road, the future as seen through the rearview mirror, or
travelling down a rocky stream, rarely make sense.
Others from Asia and the Pacific see the future as a tree (organic
with roots and with many choices), as a finely weaved carpet (with God as
the weaver), as a coconut (hard on the outside, soft on the inside) or as
being in a car with a blindfolded driver (loss of control).
conventional metaphors and then articulating alternative metaphors becomes
a powerful way to critique the present and create the possibility of
alternative futures. Metaphors and myths not only reveal the deeper
civilizational bases for particular futures but they move the
creation/understanding of the future beyond rational/design efforts. They
return the unconscious and the mythic to our discourses of the future -
the dialectics of civilizational trauma and transcendence become
episodes that give insight to past, present and future.
layered analysis includes this metaphorical dimension and links it with
other levels of analysis. It
takes as its starting point the assumption that there are different levels
of reality and ways of knowing. Individuals, organizations and
civilizations see the world from different vantage points - horizontal and
layered analysis is based on the assumption that the way in which one
frames a problem changes the policy solution and the actors responsible
for creating transformation. Using
the works of Rick Slaughter, P.R. Sarkar and Oswald Spengler,
I argue that futures studies should be seen as layered, as deep and
shallow. Its textured richness cannot be reduced to empirical trends.
first level is the
"litany" - quantitative trends, problems, often exaggerated,
often used for political purposes - (overpopulation,
eg) usually presented by the news media.
Events, issues and trends are not connected and appear
discontinuous. The result is often either a feeling of helplessness (what
can I do?) or apathy (nothing can be done!) or projected action (why don't
they do something about it?). This is the conventional level of futures
research which can readily create a politics of fear. This is the futurist
as fearmonger who warns: "the end is near". However by believing
in the prophecy and acting appropriately, the end can be averted.
The litany level is the most visible and obvious, requiring little
analytic capabilities. It is believed, rarely questioned.
second level is concerned with
social causes, including economic, cultural, political and historical
factors (rising birthrates, lack of family planning, eg). Interpretation
is given to quantitative data. This
type of analysis is usually articulated by policy institutes and published
as editorial pieces in newspapers or in not-quite academic journals.
If one is fortunate then the precipitating action is sometimes
analysed (population growth and advances in medicine/health, eg).
This level excels at technical explanations as well as academic
analysis. The role of the state and other actors and interests is often
explored at this level. The
data is often questioned, however, the language of questioning does not
contest the paradigm in which the issue is framed. It remains obedient to
third deeper level is
concerned with structure and the discourse/worldview that supports and
legitimates it (population growth and civilizational perspectives of
family; lack of women's power; lack of social security; the
population/consumption debate, eg.).
The task is to find deeper social, linguistic, cultural structures
that are actor-invariant (not dependent on who are the actors).
Discerning deeper assumptions behind the issue is crucial here as
are efforts to revision the problem.
At this stage, one can explore how different discourses (the
economic, the religious, the cultural, for example) do more than cause or
mediate the issue but constitute it, how the discourse we use to
understand is complicit in our framing of the issue. Based on the varied
discourses, discrete alternative scenarios can be derived here.
For example, a scenario of the future of population based on
religious perspectives of population ("go forth and multiply) versus
cultural scenario focused on how women's groups imagine construct birthing
and childraising as well as their roles in patriarchy and the world
division of labor. These scenarios add a horizontal dimension to our
layered analysis. The
foundations for how the litany has been presented and the variables used
to understand the litany are questioned at this level.
fourth layer of analysis is at
the level of metaphor or myth. These
are the deep stories, the collective archetypes, the unconscious, of often
emotive, dimensions of the problem or the paradox (seeing population as
non-statistical, as community, or seeing people as creative resources, eg).
This level provides a gut/emotional level experience to the
worldview under inquiry. The
language used is less specific, more concerned with evoking visual images,
with touching the heart instead of reading the head. This is the root
level of questioning, however, questioning itself finds its limits since
the frame of questioning must enter other frameworks of understanding –
the mythical, for example.
layered analysis asks us to go beyond conventional framing of issues.
For instance, normal academic analysis tends to stay in the second
layer with occasional forays into the third, seldom privileging the fourth
layer (myth and metaphor). CLA
however, does not privilege a particular level.
Moving up and down layers we can integrate analysis and synthesis,
and horizontally we can integrate discourses, ways of knowing and
worldviews, thereby increasing the richness of the analysis. What often
results are differences that can be easily captured in alternative
scenarios; each scenario in itself, to some extent, can represent a
different way of knowing. However, CLA orders the scenarios in vertical
space. For example, taking
the issue of parking spaces in urban centers can lead to a range of
scenarios. A short term
scenario of increasing parking spaces (building below or above) is of a
different order than a scenario which examines telecommuting or a scenario
which distributes spaces by lottery (instead of by power or wealth) or one
which questions the role of the car in modernity (a carless city?) or
deconstructs the idea of a parking space, as in many third world setting
where there are few spaces designated "parking".
thus, are different at each level. Litany
type scenarios are more instrumental, social level scenarios are more
policy oriented, and discourse/worldview scenarios intend on capturing
fundamental differences. Myth/metaphor type scenarios are equally discrete
but articulate this difference through a poem, a story, an image or some
other right-brain method.
who solves the problem/issue also changes at each level. At the litany
level, it is usually others - the government or corporations. At the
social level, it is often some partnership between different groups. At
the worldview level, it is people or voluntary associations, and at the
myth/metaphor it is leaders or artists.
four layers are indicative, that is, there is some overlap between the
layers. Using CLA on CLA we can see how the current litany (of what are
the main trends and problems facing the world) in itself is the tip of the
iceberg, an expression of a particular worldview.
Debating which particular ideas should fit where defeats the
purpose of the layers. They are intended to help create new types of
thinking not enter into debates on what goes precisely where.
The Futures of the United Nations
we take the futures of the United Nations as an issue, at the litany
level, of concern is news on the failure of the United Nations (the UN's
financial problems and its failures in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda).
at the second level in the UN example, include lack of supranational
authority; no united military, and the perspective that the UN is only as
good as its member nations. The
solutions that result from this level of analysis are often those that
call for more funding or more centralised power.
In this case, the UN needs more money and power. Often, deeper
historical reasons such as the creation of the UN by the victors of WW II
are articulated as factors impeding structural change.
the third level, the analysis of current UN problems then shifts from the
unequal structure of power between UN member states to the fact that
eligibility for membership in the UN is based on acquiring national
status. An NGO, an individual, a culture cannot join the National Assembly
or the Security Council. Deeper
social structures that are actor-invarient include centre-periphery
relations and the anarchic inter-state system. They are the focus at this
level. The solution that
emerges from this level of analysis is to rethink the values and structure
behind the United Nations, to revision it. Do we need a superordinate
authority or are market mechanisms enough to manage our global commons?
One could at this level, develop a horizontal discursive dimension
investigating how different paradigms or worldviews frame the problem or
issue. How would a pre-modern world approach the issue of global
governance (consensus, for example)? How might a post-modern (global
the fourth layer of myth and metaphor, in the case of the UN, some factors
that could lead to an exploration of alternative metaphors and myths
include issues of control versus freedom, of the role of individual and
collective, of family and self, of the overall governance of evolution, of
humanity's place on the Earth. Are we meant to be separate races and
nations (as ordained by the myths of the Western religions) or is a united
humanity (as Hopis and others have prophesied) our destiny?
At the visual level, the challenge would be to design another logo
for the UN, perhaps a tree of life or a circle of beings (instead of just
flags of nations as currently outside the UN headquarters).
UNESCO/World Futures Studies Federation course
the previous example was logically derived, the following are based on
actual futures-visioning workshops.
A CLA was conducted at a 1993 UNESCO/World Futures Studies
Federation workshop in Thailand on the futures of ecology, where the issue
of Bangkok's traffic problem was explored. Here were the results.
the litany level, the problem was seen to be Bangkok's traffic and related
pollution. The solution was to hire consultants particularly
transportation planners at local and international levels.
the social cause level, the problem was seen as a lack of roads with the
solution that of building more roads (and getting mobile phones in the
meantime). If one was doing
scenarios at this stage, then there would be scenarios on where to build
roads, which transportation modelling software to use.
the worldview level, it was argued that the problem was not just lack of
roads but the model of industrial growth Thailand has taken.
It is the big City Outlook that had come down through colonialism.
The city is better and rural people are idiots. Wealth is in the city
especially as population growth creates problems in the rural area.
The solution then becomes not to build more roads but to
decentralize the economy and create localism ie where local people control
their economy and feel they do not have to leave their life and lifestyle.
Psychologically it means valuing local traditions and countering the
ideology that West is best
and that Bigger is Better. New leadership and new metaphors on what it
means to be Thai emerged as the solutions.
Faculty of Work, Education and Training, Southern Cross University,
used at a seminar to the Faculty of Education, Work and Training at
Southern Cross University in 1994 on the future of enrolments, the results
were as follows.
the litany level, the problem facing the University was declining
enrolments. University professors saw it as an external problem. It was
believed that the government should do something about it, for example,
increase the number of scholarships.
the social level, a range of alternative positions were explored.
Among them that the faculty was too busy doing research, that there
was a job boom and students preferred to work rather than sit in
institutions. It could also be that the pool of students had declined,
suggested participants. The solutions that result from this level of
analysis are often those that call for more research to investigate the
problem - or to create a partnership with industry.
A precipitating action in this case study was the changeover in
government from Labor to Liberal, with the government seeing education
less as a social concern and more in economic terms.
the next level, we explore how different discourses (the economic, the
social, the cultural) do more than cause the issue but constitute it, that
the discourse we use to understand is complicit in our framing of the
issue. At this third level,
participants discussed how conventional education no longer fits the job
market and students' experience of the world that they might get from
community associations or high-tech TV.
The solution that emerged from this level was the need to rethink
the values and the structure of the educational institution, to revision
it - quite different from the litany level where the issue was more
student aid or different than the second level where the solution was
partnerships between the university, government and industry.
this level, one could develop a horizontal discursive dimension
investigating how different paradigms or worldviews (and related ways of
knowing) would frame the problem or issue. How would a premodern world
approach the issue of teaching and learning?
How might a postmodern?
the fourth level of myth and metaphor, issues that arose are: does
schooling free us or is it merely social control? Should education still
be based on the Newtonian Fordist model of the factory or is education
about transcendence, the return to mission, the re-enchantment of the
world? At this level, the
challenge is to elicit the root myth or metaphor that supports the
foundation of a particular litany of issues. In this case, the metaphors
used were that of the university as prison versus that the university as a
garden of knowledge. This
latter root metaphor was then used to aid in the visioning process, of
imagining and creating futures participants desire.
Senior Management, Southern Cross University
at the same university but at a workshop with senior management, the issue
again was financial, this time a drop in funding for education from
government. The solution that emerged from the social analysis (focusing
on the history of the state and education) was to diversify the funding
source, to ask where else can we get money.
This is in contrast to the litany level where the focus was on how
to convince the government not to change its policy or to hope that the
Labor government would once again be elected. At the discourse/worldview
level, discussions revolved around the changing nature of education - on
the decreasing importance of traditional education, and increased emphasis
on skills for a global economy. It
was the change in worldview from knowledge as sacred, the idea of the
scholar, and the idea of the scientist, to that of the education to create
better skilled workers in a global competitive marketplace that became the
focus of discussion. It was believed that it would have to be people that
lobbied the government to rethink its educational policy, not just
universities. At the last level, the issue became that of rethinking money
and exchange as well as finding other ways to manage and fund a
all the many causal layered analyses done, this was the most difficult and
least satisfying, largely because it was hard to see money in layered
terms. It was nearly impossible to move outside the
administrative-capitalist discourse - the jobs and futures of all in the
rooms depended on that discourse. In
this sense, spending more time on emerging issues that might change the
funding nature of the university (or on what-if questions) might have been
a better approach. Still, some important scenarios were developed from the
analysis: (1) the collapse of the university system in Australia; (2) a
corporate/industry aligned university, (3) a virtual university (expanding
its customers and reducing its overhead) and (4) a return to core
enlightenment values. These
helped clarify to alternative futures ahead as well gain consensus on the
preferred vision held by participants (a mix of a virtual university and
core enlightnment values).
Queensland Advocacy Incorporated
final case study was a seminar conducted on the Queensland Advocacy
Incorporated, Australia, a systems advocacy organization for people with
disability. The broad issue under discussion was the practice of housing
people with disabilities in institutions.
At the litany level, the issue was framed as abuse and neglect
within institutions. The solution by the state is often prosecution of
offenders and the creation of better institutions for those with
disabilities, said participants. The locus of action has been government
with the media providing images of positive actions the state is doing for
people with disabilities.
the social causes level, it has been the anxiety and frustration resulting
from an imbalance of power within institutional settings that has been the
key issue facing the disabled. The solution is thus focused on the
individual rather than the social structure, taking the form of therapy
for individuals with professionals providing the solution.
the worldview level, it is fear of difference and individualism that is
the central problem. People with disability are "othered", seen
as separate from "normal" communities.
At this level, the solution offered was consciousness raising, a
softening of individualism and a strengthening of community. The actors
who could make this change are people with disabilities themselves -
particularly through their various organizations.
at the myth and metaphor level, it is the story of inclusion/exclusion, of
who is normal and who is abnormal that was paramount, said participants.
The negative story is that of the cyclops - the image of the one
fundamentally different from us thus to be feared and loathed.
scenarios that resulted were: (1) society changes so that people with
disability feel welcome, (2) genetic technology eliminates
"disabilities" - a negative scenario for people with disability
since this continues the location of their body in the space of
non-acceptance; and (3) continued ghettoization with occasional feel good
there are numerous other examples, hopefully, the above give an indication
of the possible beneficial uses of CLA. The utility of causal layered
analysis is that it can categorize the many different perceptions of
realities while remaining sensitive to horizontal and vertical spaces.
Often individuals write and speak from differing perspectives. Some are
more economistic, others are concerned with the big picture; some want
real practical institutional solutions, others want changes in
CLA finds space for all of them.
key methodological utility is that it allows for research that brings in
many perspectives. It has a fact basis, which is framed in history, which
is then contextualized within a discourse or worldview, which then is
located in pre and post-rational ways of knowing, in myth and metaphor.
The challenge is to bring in these many perspectives to a particular
problem, to go up and down levels, and sideways through various scenarios.
all methods, CLA has its limits. For example, it does not forecast the
future per se and is best used in the conjunction with other methods such
as emerging issues analysis and visioning. It could lead to a paralysis of
action ie too much time spent on problematizing and not enough on
designing new policy actions. For newcomers to the futures field, it may
dampen their inner creativity, since it categorizes reality instead of
allowing for a free for all visioning. For others, it is too difficult.
This is especially so for empiricists who see the world as either true or
false (who insist on being right instead being located in layers of
reality) or postmodern relativists who reject the vertical gaze CLA
implies. CLA endeavors to
find space for these different perspectives.
It does not reject the empirical or the ideational but considers
them both along a continuum.
this sense CLA, while part of the poststructural critical tradition, is
very much oriented toward action learning.
Answers are neither right nor wrong. Rather a dialogue that uses
multiple ways of knowing is sought between the different levels.
Interaction is critical here. By
moving up and down levels and sideways through scenarios, different sorts
of policy outcomes are possible and discourse/worldviews as well as
metaphors and myths are enriched by these new empirical realities.
course, if at a workshop, a discussion does not fit into our neat
categories of litany, social causes, worldview and metaphor and root myth,
it is important to work with the individuals to create new categories.
However, in general, these categories work because they capture how
we think and categorize the world - they capture the differences that are
Dr. Sohail Inayatullah is Professor of Futures Studies,
International Management Centres. He is also Professorial Research
Fellow, Tamkang University, Taiwan and Visiting Academic at the
Communication Center, Queensland University of Technology. Box 2434,
Brisbane, 4001, Australia. Tel: 61-7-3864-4200. Fax: 61-7-3864-2252.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Associate editor of New
Renaissance and co-editor of the Journal
of Futures Studies.
Rick Slaughter, "Developing and Applying Strategic
Foresight," The ABN Report
Vol. 5, No. 10, December 1997, 7-15.
See, for example, Harold Linstone, "What I have Learned: The
Need for Multiple Perspectives," Futures
Research Quarterly, Spring 1985, 47-61. He divides futures into the
technical, organizational and personal. Also see, Eleonora Masini and
Karin Gillwald, "On Futures Studies and Their Social Context with
Particular Focus on West Germany," Technological
Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 38, 1990, 187-199. They take
Linstone's model and apply it historically to Europe and the US, seeing
futures as going through technical, organizational and personal phases.
See also, Zia Sardar, "Colonizing the future: the 'other' dimension
of futures studies," Futures,
Vol. 25, No. 2, March 1993), 179-187. Sardar argues for a
colonization/decolonization dialectic. The classic map of futures
studies remains Roy Amara's division into preferred, possible and
probable. See his, Roy Amara, "The Futures Field," The
Futurist, February, April and June 1981.
also, Clement Bezold and Trevor Hancock, "An Overview of the Health
Futures Field". Institute for Alternative Futures, Washington DC,
1993. 29 pages. Bezold adds a the plausible to Amara's three categories.
Sohail Inayatullah, "Deconstructing and Reconstructing the
Future: Predictive, Cultural and Critical Epistemologies," Futures,
Vol. 22, No. 2, March 1990, 115-141.
Sohail Inayatullah, "From Who am I to When am I?: Framing
the Time and Shape of the Future," Futures,
Vol. 25, No. 3, April 1993, 235-253.
For the classical treatment of this, see Rick Slaughter,
"Towards a Critical Futurism," World
Future Society Bulletin, July/August and September/October 1984 and
Wendy Schultz, "Silences, Shadows, Reflections on Futures," in
Jim Dator and Maria Roulstone, eds. Who
Cares? And How? Futures of Caring Societies, Honolulu, World Futures
Studies Federation, 1988. Rick
Slaughter writes that "critical futures study is itself an approach
to futures questions that arises from a deep understanding of the
dysfunctions of the Western worldview.
This can seem threatening to those whose professional interests
are bound up with ... the industrial growth ideology. But, in fact, the
analysis of dysfunctions at this deep level is only a ground-clearing
exercise. Beyond this the task of exploring new domains of cultural
possibility and potential." See Richard Slaughter, "Developing
and Applying Strategic Foresight," 11.
See, Manas Ray, "India, Fifty Years On: Revisiting
Modernity," research paper, School of Media and Journalism,
Queensland University of Technology, Research paper quoting Sudipto
Kaviraj, "Religion and Identity in India" Ethnic
and Racial Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, 1997, 331.
For the best discussion, See Michael Shapiro, Reading
the Postmodern Polity, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, 1992.
Postmodernists would reject the idea that deconstruction etc
should be seen as a method. It is considered an anti-method, focused on
problematizing not on providing recipes for policy.
Moreover, there are no practitioners of postmodernity, if at all,
the episteme of postmodernity practices on us.
See, for example, the works of Ashis Nandy and Zia Sardar.
Short essays by these two can be found in Futures.
Ashis Nandy, "Bearing Witness to the Future," Futures,
Vol. 28, No. 6/7, 1996, and Zia Sardar, "Natural Born Futurist,
Futures, Vol. 28, No. 6/7,
1996. Also see the special issue of Futures
on Futures generations thinking, which takes a Confucian approach to
futures studies, Futures,
Vol. 29, No. 8, October 1997.
Emerging issues analysis is a method which identifies issues
before they reach the trend or problem phase. It makes the assumption
that issues follow an s-pattern growth curve from emerging to trend to
problem. For more on this
method, see the path breaking work of Graham T.T. Molitor, Public Policy
Forecasting, 9208 Wooden Bridge Road, Potomac, Maryland 20854, USA.
See, Sohail Inayatullah, "The Futures of
(with Samar Ihsan and Levi Obijiofor), Vol. 27, No. 8, October 1995,
897-904 and Sohail Inayatullah, "Futures Visions of Southeast Asia:
Some Early Warning Signals," Futures,
Vol. 27, No. 6, July/August, 1995, 681-688;
Johan Galtung, "Enactment of a Universal Drama - Ethnic
Conflicts," New Renaissance,
Vol. 7, No. 1, 1996, 13-15.
See Richard Slaughter 1989, "Probing Beneath the
October 1989, p. 454 (Slaughter offers the brilliant idea of different
types of futures studies from the litany- based to the
epistemological-based. Indeed, it was Slaughter's presentation at the
World Futures Studies Federation conference in Budapest in 1990 that I
noticed that his division of futures studies into levels was more than a
typology but a potential method). P.R. Sarkar (Shrii Shrii Anandamurti),
Discourses on Tantra - vol. 1 and
2. Calcutta, Ananda Marga Publications, 1992 (Borrowing from Tantra,
Sarkar argues that the individual mind is composed of layers. The first
layer is the body, then the conscious mind followed by three layers of
superconscious mind). See,
Sohail Inayatullah, "Oswald Spengler: The Rise and Fall of
Cultures" in Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah, Macrohistory
and Macrohistorians. Westport, CT. and London, Praeger, 1997
(Spengler argues that reality should be seen as deep and shallow, not as
truth or false).
The Club of Rome's Limits
to Growth and other studies is a modern example of this.
In Pakistan, for example, parking spaces are rare - parking as a
regulatory discourse is not active there.
Most policy thus merely reinscribes the modern capitalist
worldview. However, by noticing how a particularly litany is shaped by a
particularly worldview, this allows us to enter alternative worldviews
and articulate different policy statements based on them.
At the same time, CLA in itself is part of a worldview - one
committed to methodological eclecticism but in the framework of a
layered, post-postmodern view of reality. It thus not only challenges
the "totalizing nature of the empirical paradigm" (to use Paul
Wildman's phrase) but as well the horizontal relativism of
Five are presented but there are many more. Currently three doctoral
dissertations are using Causal Layered Analysis as their research
See, Sohail Inayatullah, "Teaching Futures Workshops:
Leadership, Ways of Knowing and Institutional Politics" Futures
Research Quarterly. (Vol. 14, No. 4,
Winter, 1998), 29-36;
community learning, through more spiritual approaches that revive the
ideas of initiation into meaning and culture systems that current
educational institutions lack, wherein merely an application form
Perhaps: Focused on distant learning or interactive learning
where boundaries between student and teacher, text and context
For an exploration of these differences, see Paul Wildman and
Sohail Inayatullah, "Ways of knowing, culture, communication and
the pedagogies of the future," Futures,
Vol. 28, No. 8, October