Futures literacy through narrative

Liveley, G. and Slocombe, W. and Spiers, E. (2021) Futures literacy through narrative. Futures, 125: 102663. ISSN 0016-3287

[thumbnail of Futures_Literacy_through_Narrative_submission_Futures]
Text (Futures_Literacy_through_Narrative_submission_Futures)
Futures_Literacy_through_Narrative_submission_Futures.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (428kB)


This paper explores the particular role of narrative in developing futures literacy. As literacy denotes the ability to express and absorb meaning through language, enabling individuals to parse information and relate to others, then futures literacy also needs to draw on the insights of narrative to embrace its full emancipatory potential. We set out the importance of narrative in (1) framing, (2) shaping, and (3) critiquing the world-building techniques that form the foundation of futures thinking and futures literacy. These insights into the “storiness” of futurity, we argue, enhance critical reflexivity and illuminate our wider understanding of the dynamics that drive assumptions about the future(s). This paper offers three examples of how working with narrative tools can enhance futures literacy. First, we show how narrative theory can help us understand the limitations of the human imagination when it comes to futures thinking. Second, we offer an overview of how collaborative, character-led storytelling can activate an agentic relationship with uncertain and complex futures. Finally, we explore how speculative fiction reveals the importance of context in futures thinking. Overall, we demonstrate how proficiency in narrative theory and literary studies can shed more light on the cultural and ontological perspectives and specificities to be considered in how we anticipate and engage in futures thinking.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Futures. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Futures, 125, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2020.102663
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? characterfictionfuturesliteracynarrativespeculativestorytellingculturefuture prospectliteracydevelopmentbusiness and international managementsociology and political science ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
14 Jan 2021 16:50
Last Modified:
16 Jun 2024 00:37