Navigating foresight in a sea of expectations: lessons from the sociology of expectations

H. van Lente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Foresight can be described as the articulation of possible futures. It has a range of applications and is used with different methods, for different objectives and in different settings. Yet, anticipation in science and technology is not limited to foresight, but occurs in many more informal ways. This paper investigates the phenomenon that socio-technical developments are saturated with formal and informal anticipations and discusses the implications of this condition for foresight. The range of foresight studies is reviewed as well as the main results of the sociology of expectations, which studies the informal production and circulation of expectations in science and technology. Finally, three generic lessons from the sociology of expectations are derived, and it is discussed how these support or limit the ambitions of foresight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-782
Number of pages14
JournalTechnology Analysis and Strategic Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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