The Salience of "Hope" and the Social Construction of Alternative Futures
The purpose of this paper is to examine the salience of hope as a varialbe in the construction of alternative futures. This paper is really two papers in one. First, I will point out the shortcomings of Sociology's reliance on the methods of prediction and projection in dealing with issues surrounding the future. Then, drawing from historian Melvin Rader (1981), I will proceed to make a case for the importance of hope in the construction of possible, probable and preferable futures. Finally, I will share some of my ongoing research on hope and some possible theoretical explanations for the "privatization of hope" and its implications for future social configurations. It is beyond the scope of this essay to attend to the myriad of methodological issues surrounding the use of hope in the construction of the future. I merely wish to make a convincing argument that hope is a useful sociology construct that must be employed by social scientists when dealing with the future.
Keywords: Hope, Social Constructionism, Future
Dr. Elizabeth Gill
Professor of Sociology, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Randolph-Macon College