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Has the COVID-19 crisis changed our relationship to the future?

Jahel C., Bourgeois R., Pesche D., De Lattre-Gasquet M., Delay E.. 2021. Futures and Foresight Science, 3 (2) : 15 p..

DOI: 10.1002/ffo2.75

The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis introduced a sudden discontinuity into the functioning of human societies worldwide by affecting individual habits as well as economic and social life. This paper is a first attempt to investigate whether that discontinuity also altered our relationship to the future, in particular through the production of scenarios of a ¿world after¿ significantly different from the world before. We analyzed the representations of the future produced at the height of the first wave of the crisis, between March and June 2020, through a selective review of these productions. From the 60 sources found, we selected 23 texts yielding 83 scenarios. We used a classic four-category typology (Continued Growth, Discipline, Collapse and Transformation) that allowed us to identify scenarios of continuity and discontinuity. The results show a paradoxical predominance of continuity scenarios, contradicting our hypothesis that the crisis would have fostered creativity regarding the ¿world after.¿ The discussion focuses on potential explanatory elements. These relate essentially to the way the scenarios were produced, notably in terms of time horizon, explanation of the methods and selection of the variables structuring the scenarios. These elements seem to indicate that these scenarios were rather generated from a reactive posture, showing a reluctance to rethink the present as a moment of discontinuity opening up the horizon of possibilities. This initial work paves the way for a more systematic exploration of the practice of anticipation and the capacity to produce creative/imaginative futures in times of crisis.

Mots-clés : changement social; covid-19; pandémie; résilience; redressement après une situation de crise; stratégie pour faire face à une crise; crise sanitaire

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