The Future as Practice. A Framework to Understand Anticipation in Science and Technology


  • Carla Alvial-Palavicino Universidad Diego Portales and University of Twente



anticipation, sociology of expectations, governance, anticipatory practices, futures


The future has become a common theme in governance of contemporary societies, particularly in the context of technological development. It is presented as open and uncertain, which, either as an opportunity or as a threat, demands a sense of urgency. Concretely, the future is embodied and made present through expectations, which have a performative effect in the constitution of socio-technical fields. These expectations are embedded in socio-material practices, through which they are produced, shared, shaped and contested. In this essay, I propose a framework to understand anticipation as a set of interrelated techno-scientific practices, which I call an anticipatory assemblage. This perspective has two contributions: first, it allows an in-depth understanding of phenomena such as technological hype cycles. Secondly, it frames the performative aspect of expectations in relation to governance, by considering how a series of anticipatory practices co-produce techno-scientific fields. I specify this framework using the case of two emerging technologies: graphene and 3D printing, for which I stress some of the differences in anticipatory practices and governance.




How to Cite

Alvial-Palavicino, C. (2015). The Future as Practice. A Framework to Understand Anticipation in Science and Technology. Tecnoscienza – Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies, 6(2), 135–172.