Back from the future: A narrative approach to study the imagination of personal futures

Anneke Sools*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
214 Downloads (Pure)


This article responds to the call for prospective methodologies in the social sciences by developing a narrative approach to study the imagination of personal futures. The approach encompasses an analytical framework regarding dimensions of projectivity and an elicitation method (Letters from the Future). Using an example letter from a study about post-Referendum futures in Greece, the article draws on psychological, sociological, and futures studies research to elucidate key issues in projectivity research. The article clarifies potentials and challenges in three thematic clusters: (1) Balancing clarity and reach concerns the quality of narrative accounts of the future and proposes techniques for eliciting personally meaningful accounts; (2) The experience and meaning of time foregrounds narrative sense-making involved in imagining the future, thereby highlighting futures thinking as cultural capacity; (3) Engaging spaces of the possible foregrounds imagination in (co-)constructing narratives of and from the future. Finally, the article reviews strengths and limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-465
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date3 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


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