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Horizon Futures Watch Workshop 1: Future of Social Confrontations

Author

Laura Galante

Sep 1, 2023

This blog post summarizes the dissemination event held for the 'Future of Social Confrontations' project.

On 31 May, the Foresight on Demand Consortium hosted the inaugural Horizon Futures Watch Workshop, a deep dive into the future of social confrontations from the perspective of European Research and Innovation Policy. One of the highlights was the 'Deep Dives' segment, which explored the risks future social confrontations might pose to European R&I policies. Findings from a Horizon Scanning exercise were showcased. This exercise aimed at explaining major trends in social confrontations and the factors driving change. Using a model contrasting dimensions like democratisation versus authoritarianism and private economy influence against the significance of public goods, these four potential scenarios, each a possible future for Europe, ignited a spirited discussion among participants.


  • The scenario “European Democracy Rhizome” envisions grassroots networks playing an important role in political participation. Civil society actively engages to enhance its impact on policy-making processes, striving for greater influence and embracing new forms of structured dialogue. The concept is further explored by the Musae Starts project, which was also presented later on in the workshop. it introduces an innovative Human-Centred Factory model that integrates artistic collaboration within Digital Innovation Hubs. It aims adopt a strategic approach to exponential technologies for the future of food, aiming to improve human and planetary well-being by reducing carbon footprint and rethinking the food chain.

  • In contrast, one of two scenarios outlining a shift towards authoritarianism, “Defending Itself Against Totalitarian Tendencies”, depicts a situation where extremists attempt to seize control within the EU, leading to an escalation of social confrontations in countries where civil rights are violated.

  • The other one, “The European Fortress Defending Its Borders”, portrays the EU as safeguarding itself against external infiltration attempts and striving for self-sufficiency. However, it still contends with numerous internal and external forces and groups that fuel social confrontations within European society.

  • The final scenario describes a development toward more consumerism and control by large tech companies. In this scenario, “Cultural hegemony through global capitalism”, almost all types of social confrontations have ended. What is more, it implies a diminishing trust between society and science. During the workshop, PROSPER Network, which unites foresight practitioners from French public research institutions and ministries, examined what could be the drivers of reciprocal trust between society and science and how trust could evolve by 2040.


Throughout the session, the audience‘s keen interest was evident as they posed insightful questions, diving deep into the nuances of social confrontations for the Green Transition. One notable intervention brought to light a pressing concern: There's a potential for the escalation of social confrontations and unrest if the green transition doesn't incorporate substantial redistributive measures. In contrast to this concern, a project that was presented, Critical Making Project, examined innovation processes in the marker movement with regards to social responsibility, especially in relation to gender, openness, recruitment of young people and more generally, their social responsibility.


Another question emphasized the significance of "nature justice" in conjunction with climate justice. It's essential to recognize that some nature-based solutions might have unintended consequences, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. The workshop provided a platform for further exploration of these considerations. Presentations showcased EU-funded projects that specifically addressed these concerns, offering a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and potential solutions in the green transition journey.


The inaugural Horizon Futures Watch Workshop proved to be an insightful and engaging event. The audience’s active participation particularly underscored the urgency and complexity of addressing social confrontations in the context of the green transition. The workshop highlighted the multidimensional nature of social confrontations and the complex relationship between policies and social dynamics.


For more information on the project, please visit https://www.futures4europe.eu/projects/deep-dive%3A-social-confrontations. 

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