The Sociology of Futurelessness

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This paper contributes to ‘sociologies of the future’ by discussing the concept of ‘futurelessness’. I provide a conceptual elaboration of what is meant by ‘futurelessness’, beginning with its use in the psychological literature of the 1980s concerned with the effect of a constant threat of nuclear war. I argue that this concept is of value to ongoing sociological debates about the relationship between how the future is imagined, power, and social change. I further discuss the extent to which ‘futurelessness’ is a particular mode of relating to and feeling about the future that is characteristic of contemporary European societies. I discuss how this ‘futurelessness’ must be understood in relation to political and cultural developments of the past fifty years and consider its significance for sociological debates about contemporary futurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-453
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2022


  • Affect
  • futures
  • Neoliberalism
  • power
  • Sociology

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