Adrienne Sörbom
Adrienne Sörbom

About the project

Adrienne Sörbom will investigate the ideas, practices and processes of anticipatory governance drawn upon within think tanks, research institutes and NGOs. The aim of the project is to understand what kinds of knowledge and scenario-building templates that are involved in looking towards the future. Of interest here are the various kinds of technologies and tools, including ethnographic research, metric data sets, expert workshops, online games and digital visualizations, that are used to make potential and abstract futures more tangible as well as indicating what needs to be developed already today to reach a possible alternative future. The project will answer questions regarding the cultural assumptions and rationalities involved in the making and implementation of these tools; the kinds of knowledge that form the basis for claims to legitimacy, and how these forms of future foresight contribute to articulating future as well as contemporary forms of governance.

Key questions are: What types of foresight and scenario models are created in think tanks, NGOs and research institutes geared to proposing models for anticipatory governance? Who are the professionals generating, legitimating and disseminating these models and what cultural rationalities and epistemic assumptions shape their professional practices? What are the social practices involved in creating, shaping, and diffusing the scenario models? What role does the organizational context of this specific type of organization play in the production and distribution of scenario models? What forms of knowledge are produced in models for global foresight?

Sörbom will conduct ethnographic fieldwork, consisting of participant observation and qualitative interviews, among think tanks, research institutes and NGOs that draw upon future scenario planning. July 1, 2016 is the starting date for this project. 

Short biography

Adrienne Sörbom is Associate professor of Sociology, and researcher at the multi-disciplinary research center Score (Stockholm center for organizational research) at Stockholm University. Sörbom is also tenured lecturer in sociology at Södertörn University and leader of research at Centre for the studies of Political Organisation (CPO).

Sörbom’s research interests are contemporary politics, in the broad sense. In the last years Sörbom has, together with Professor Christina Garsten, studied World Economic Forum – one of the world’s largest think tanks – pursuing research in relation to the globalization of politics. How is politics outside nation-states possible? Previously, Sörbom researched globalization practices among social movements at large, and the social democratic labor movement in particular. She has also studied individualization process in relation to politics and social movements.

Sörbom is partaking in the ongoing research project, Global Policy Brokers: The Role of Transnational Think Tanks in Setting Political Agendas, that is funded by the Swedish Research Council and led by Professor Christina Garsten. The project concerns political globalization in the form of globally diffused think tanks, aiming to examine how transnational knowledge is produced in think tanks with globalizing ambitions, and asking questions regarding what kinds of knowledge that are cultivated, and what practices that are involved in the making and diffusion of knowledge. By providing a multidimensional account of the role of knowledge in transnational policy making and political processes the project will contribute to our understanding of how transnational think tanks generate credibility and legitimacy to influence social and political development. What financial, social, cognitive and political resources do they draw upon, in what situations, generating what consequences?

Sörbom is based in USA through September to December 2016 to conduct fieldwork. During spring 2017 Sörbom is an invited researcher at the Scandinavian Consortium of Organizational Research at Stanford.

Selected publications



Discreet Power. How the World Economic Forum Shapes Market Agendas (with Christina Garsten). Stanford University Press.


Politikens gränser: globalisering, socialdemokrati och banden till nationen. Stockholm: Atlas. [Political Boundaries: Globalization, Social Democracy and the Nation]


När vardagen blir politik. Stockholm: Atlas. [Politicizing Everyday Life]

Peer-reviewed articles


Begreppet extremism – en kritisk introduktion (with Magnus Wennerhag). [Extremism – a critical introduction to the concept] ARKIV. Tidskrift för samhällsanalys, nr 5, 15-37.


After a Cycle of Contention: Post-Gothenburg Strategies of Left-Libertarian Activists in Sweden (with Kerstin Jacobsson). Social Movements Studies, 14(6): 713-732.


Individualization, Life Politics, and the Reformulation of Social Critique: an Analysis of the Global Justice Movement (with Magnus Wennerhag). Critical Sociology, 39(3): 453-478.



Power, Policy and Profit: Corporate Engagement in Politics and Governance (with Christina Garsten). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.


Den tömda demokratin - och vägarna tillbaka till makten. [Emptied Democracy – and the roads back to power]. Stockholm: Atlas.

Chapters in anthologies


Why didn't happen here? The gradual radicalization of the anarchist movement in Sweden 1980–90 (with Jan Jämte), in A European youth revolt: European perspectives on youth protest and social movements in the 1980s, eds. Knud Andresen, Bart van der Steen. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Högt spel i gränslandet mellan politik och marknad (with Christina Garsten), in Alla dessa marknader, eds. Jenny Björkman and Björn Fjæstad. Riksbankens Jubileumsfonds årsbok 2014/15. Stockholm: Makadam förlag.

Values aligned: The organization of conflicting values within the World Economic Forum (with Adrienne Sörbom), in Configuring Value Conflicts in Markets, eds. Susanna Alexius and Kristina Tamm- Hallström. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


It is merely changing: An analysis of the concept of individualization in relation to contemporary political participation, in New Forms of Citizen Participation: Normative Implications, ed. E. Amnå. Berlin: Nomos verlag.