Jenny Andersson
Jenny Andersson

Short biography

Jenny Andersson is an economic historian and CNRS Research Professor at the Center for European Studies (CEE), Paris.  She is an ERC Principal Investigator of FUTUREPOL, a Sciences Po project on the political history of the future, knowledge production and future governance in the post-war period. She is also Co-Director of the Max Planck Sciences Po Center.

She was awarded an ERC Starting Grant for her Futurepol project. She holds a PhD in Economic History from Uppsala University (2003). Before joining the CNRS and Sciences Po in October 2009, she was post-doctoral fellow and visiting scholar at the European University Institute, Florence, and at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University. She was also a research fellow of the Swedish National Scientific Council (Vetenskapsrådet) and an associated professor with the Swedish Institute for Futures Studies in Stockholm from 2007-2009.

Jenny has published several works on the transformations on social democracy in the post war period, Between Growth and Security: Swedish Social Democracy from a Strong Society to a Third Way, published in 2006 by Manchester University Press, and The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in an Age of Knowledge, Stanford University Press, 2009. She has also written a number of articles on topics such as the political economy of the knowledge economy, the cultural images of Sweden and the Swedish model, and the origins of futures studies.

Within Futurepol, Jenny Andersson supervises the research project. She is working on two fundamental research questions, “A transnational history of the future. Tracing futurists and their visions of the world”, and “Governing the long term. Institutions for the future”. The first study traces the futurists, the scientists and intellectuals who developed forecasting and futures studies and who were deeply involved in producing images of world futures. Particularly, my interest is in tracking the transnational forms of exchange of futurists and the way that they attempted to structure a new field of research about the future. This implies important archival research in archives all over the world, as well as a number of oral history interviews with leading futurists.

Her second line of research deals with the institutionalization of forms of future governance, in other words with a comparative history of the institutions that were developed in the period from the early 1970s to deal with the future. For the moment she is working on a comparative study on such institutions in Sweden, France, the Netherlands and the UK. She published among others an article in the International Review for Social History entitled “Choosing futures. Alva Myrdal and the construction of Swedish futures studies 1967-1972” (vol. 51, 2006, p.  277-295).

In 2015, Jenny Andersson has been awarded the presitgeous CNRS bronze medal for her research.

At MaxPo, Jenny Andersson will continue her research on the role of the future for economic action and the conditions of political action for a post-crisis age, investigating forms of forecast, scenarios, and future anticipation in extending key forms of interests and value orders into time, and the role of forecasting expertise in this process. She will establish an interdisciplinary research group between history and political science examining the conditions of political action for a post-crisis age, focusing in particular on the effects of austerity on the Left–Right divide.

FUTUREPOL  / The Future Factory

Her research in the project will have as its main objective to analyze in a critical and historicised perspective contemporary forms of future governance and future expertise. The historical research begun in Futurepol in 2012 has brought out the way in which the future can be understood as a category, created by specific forms of scientific and political intervention, which seek to transform futures from openended and potentially messy processes, to ordered, predictable, and controllable ones. From this perspective, the future can be situated in the midst of geopolitics and in the process of shifting scales of governance in the post war period, from concerns with national and eventually bi polar futures, to concerns with global, universal, and world futures. Her research has pinpointed the particular role played by various epistemic processes constructing this future category, and specifically, the role of predictive expertise.

The ‘future experts’ are people who straddle a divide between academic knowledge production and market based forms of expertise, and who move oftentimes between consultancies and paid for futures advice, to forms of futuristic activism. A large and unstudied field of future consultants – the ‘future factory’ – produce futures by creating scenarios, forecasts, foresights and other forms of futures oriented knowledge and putting these at their clients’ disposal. Who are these future experts? How is this future factory organised, and how do the methods and epistemological positions that shape this field interact with key forms of material and ideological interest? What are the consequences of the future factory in terms of shaping worldviews and acting on perceptions of the future? 

She proposes to study the rise and spread of this future consultancy activity in a global field in the period from the 1970s onwards, by tracing a number of networks of consultants and experts, based in thinktanks and research institutes as well as in transnational and intergovernmental organisations. From the early 1970s on, futurists created not one but several competing institutes for the world future (Institute for the future, the World Future Society, the Millennium project), some of which promoted forms of business advice, some of which were key in promoting ideas of global development, and some of which were devoted to the promotion of a particular method – the scenario method, the Delphi tool, or a myriad of other tools designed as quantitative indicators and future indexes or as pseudo psychoanalytical triggers of the imagination under the banner “think outside of the box”! She mobilises the recent sociology of expertise and important works on the constitution of world data and global communities of experts in order to explain this.

 

Selected publications

Monographs

2009

The Library and the Workshop. Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age. Stanford University Press.

2007

Between Growth and Security. Swedish Social Democracy from a Strong Society to a Third Way. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Peer-reviewed articles

2015

Gouverner le «long terme». La prospective et la production bureaucratique des futurs en France (with Pauline Prat). Gouvernement & action publique, 3(3): 9-29.

2014

Governing the future: science, policy and public participation in the construction of the long term in the Netherlands and Sweden. History and technology: an international journal, 30(1-2): 104-122.

2012

The Great Future Debate and the Struggle for the World. The Rise of Futurology as a National and Transnational Field of Control and Dissent in the Cold War. American Historical Review, 5(117): 1411-1430.

2009

Images of Sweden and the Nordic Countries (with Mary Hilson). Editorship of Special Issue of Scandinavian Journal of History.

Nordic Nostalgia and Nordic Light: the Swedish model as Utopia 1930–2007. The Scandinavian journal of economics, 34(3): 229-245.

2006

The People’s Library and the Electronic Workshop. Swedish and British Social Democracy interpret the Knowledge Society. Politics and Society, 34(3): 431-460.

Choosing futures. Alva Myrdal and the construction of Swedish futures studies 1967-1972. International Review of Social History, 51(2): 277-295.

Anthology

2015

The Struggle for the Long-Term in Transnational Science and Politics: Forging the Future (with Egle Rindzeviciute). Routledge Approaches to History. Routledge.

Chapters in anthologies

2014

Losing social democracy. Reflections on the erosion of a paradigmatic case of social democracy, in European social democracy during the global economic crisis: Renovation or resignation?, eds. David J. Bailey, Jean-Michel De Waele, Fabien Escalona and Mathieu Vieira. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

2011

Not without a future, in The future of European social democracy, eds. Henning Meyer and Jonathan Rutherford. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

2008

Socialdemokratin, tillväxten och den sociala utslagningen, in Industriland, tolv forskare om när Sverige blev modernt, ed. Jan Af Geijerstam. Stockholm: Premiss förlag.

The knowledge society as utopia, in Exploring the Utopian Impulse: Essays on Utopian Thought and Practice, eds. Michael J Griffin and Tom Moylan. Brussels: Peter Lang.

2007

Solidarity or competition. Creating the European Knowledge Society, in European Solidarities. Tensions and contentions of a concept. Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang. Travail &Societe/Work &Society.

Baklänges in i framtiden, om folkhemsnostalgi och historiska framtidsvisioner, in Den självstyrande medborgaren? Ny historia om rättvisa, demokrati och välfärd, eds. Christina Florin, Elisabeth Elgan and Gro Hagemann. Stockholm: Institutet för framtidsstudier.

2006

Reflections on the meaning of the Social and Liberal Model, in Social Europe: a continents’ answer to market fundamentalism, eds. Detlev Albers, Stephen Haseler and Henning Meyer. London: European Research Forum at London Metropolitan University.

Growth and Security: Swedish reformism in the Post-War Period, in Socialism and Social Reform in the Twentieth Century: Cultures of Social Democracy in Historical and Comparative Perspective, eds. John Callaghan and Llaria Favretto. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

2005

A Productive Social Citizenship? Reflections on the Concept of Productive Social Policies in the European Tradition, in A European Social Citizenship? Preconditions for Future Policies from a Historical Perspective, eds. Lars Magnusson and Bo Stråth. Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang.

Kunskap som kritik. Ett perspektiv på det sena 1960-talets och 1980-talets kritik av den starka staten, in Bortom den starka staten, eds. Bo Rothstein and Lotta Vahlne Westerhäll. Stockholm: SNS.