The Salience of "Hope" and the Social Construction of Alternative Futures

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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
Stream: Knowledge
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , “Hope” and the Social Construction of the Future, The, ,


Dr. Elizabeth Gill

Professor of Sociology, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Randolph-Macon College
Ashland, Virginia, USA

Elizabeth A. Gill received her M.A. from Yale and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is full professor of sociology at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, where she chairs the department. She has authored or co-authored articles on death and dying, the family, human rights, and pragmatism. In her research on hospice workers and on hope she focuses on the interface between agency and organizational structures and on the alternatives that individuals in these situations are seeking to create.

Ref: H08P0004