This paper present a new approach to analyze how people anticipate the future in times of uncertainty. Our approach combines insights from narrative theory and the sociology of anticipatory modes of engagement with the future. We applied a mixed method approach to analyze 166 letters from a creative writing exercise where residents from five countries was asked to write retrospectively from the viewpoint of a desired post-corona future. Using the methodology of Digital Story Grammar, we first categorized the letters given their grammatical structure in terms of who are in stories (characters), what the stories are about (type of action), and to what or whom were the actions directed to (objects for the character's actions). This resulted in four writing styles: (1) analytical-observational, (2) collective-moral, (3) dialogical-personal, and (4) sensory-emotional. Consequently, we interpreted the four writing styles qualitatively in relation to the theory of modes of engagement with the future (i.e., familiarity, plans, exploration, and justification). We conclude by reflecting on the relationships between writing styles and modes in a multi-paradigmatic approach to the study of anticipation and the relevance to scenario-building practices.
- Anticipatory functions, narrative
- Digital story grammar
- Modes of engagement with the future
- Writing style
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