Sara Robison clarifies thinking about the future in Why Change Happens: Ten Theories.
Because we each have our own pet theories of how the world works, different people can look at the same situation, and come to completely different conclusions about what's likely to happen next.
Professional futurists have, through the years, boiled down all the various change theories down to about ten basic classifications.
I'm big on Chaos, Complexity,Criticality but also find all of the others, excluding progress, compelling. Power matters, but I completely disagree with the idea that only the power elite really understand change. Cycles, for me, is over simplistic but not entirely wrong.
Which ones underlie your visions of future possibilities?
When I first learned of Chaos theory it opened a door of seeing chaos as a resource to be utilized, not to fear and try to prevent. My love of fractals came out of that and seeing how a simple formula change can make a tremendous change over time and space. Using fractals to demonstrate the role of debt in causing economic booms and busts cannot be made clearer. If a formal that compounds by a very small amount at the beginning multiplies exponentially later and that is exactly what we have experienced in the boom and bust of our economic model.
We also see evidence of chaos taking place in our belief/non-belief taking place in our political and social lives. There are some who see damnation if we don't hold on to old values and dogma. Others see possibility in new images of life and living and are eager to explore and experiment. Some just don't seem to notice and drift along like an autumn leaf carried down a stream.
I don't think the power elite understands change; I think they understand the familiar, the usual, the traditional ways of thinking and acting. Some have found a formula for "success" whatever that is, and don't want to risk trying new and different ways of being.
When I see photos of gathered committee members or think tanks, so often one sees those who have found a way to manipulate markets to their advantage, but they do not include women or those who are the producers of goods and services. The old-boy's network doesn't want influences of people from other stations in life and yet if a society is to succeed, all members must benefit by the structure.
I imagine a four-legged stool with government/business/labor/women as being part of the whole, and of course I can include race and other variables, but the main thing is that all men and women, rich and poor, business owners and the labor force that makes business successful, and government are part of system that requires balance. Cut off one or two legs, and the whole thing becomes vulnerable. Cut off women and labor and the stool has business and government left with earning power leaving the rest behind with a growing wage gap, as we are seeing now.
9. Evolution. Change happens when the physical environment changes, and organisms adapt in response to those changes. Ecologists have the deepest understanding of change; the rest of us are co-participants, but nobody really knows what will ultimately come of our efforts. Our best chance of progress lies with our ability to understand the world around us, and find the most appropriate ways of responding to emerging issues. Over the next 20 years, we will either come to terms with our responsibility to nature, or risk extinction. Global warming, mass extinction, and the rise of virulent, drug-resistant organisms are among the biggest concerns.
Number 9 for me ....Ecology is my specialty