Futures Narratives, Possible Worlds, Big Stories: Causal Layered Analysis and the Problems of Youth



Watson C (2009) Futures Narratives, Possible Worlds, Big Stories: Causal Layered Analysis and the Problems of Youth. Sociological Research Online, 14 (5), Art. No.: 20.

Narratives of the future can be seen as a form of colonialisation, structuring fields of discourse, in a process which Johan Galtung (cited in Andersson, 2006) refers to as 'chronological imperialism'. However, futures narratives can also be used to disrupt these attempts at colonialisation through surfacing problematic assumptions in order to explore alternative scenarios. In this paper I first consider modal narratives and possible worlds and their relevance to the social sciences. I then discuss Sohail Inayatullah's 'Causal Layered Analysis' (CLA) - a narrative technique for constructing past and present and imagining the future. CLA draws on a 'poststructural toolbox' to examine problematic issues using a process which focuses on four levels of analysis: litany (the official public description of the issue); social science analysis (which attempts to articulate causal variables); discourse analysis or prevailing worldview; and myth/metaphor analysis. The aim is to disrupt current discourses which have become sedimented into practice and so open up space for the construction of alternative scenarios. In the third part I demonstrate how this approach can be used to examine 'big issues' taking as my example the current preoccupation with troubled and troublesome youth.

Youth; Youth Crime; Scenario; Causal Layered Analysis; Childhood; Ethical Spectacle; Futures Narrative; Discourse analysis, Narrative.; Narration (Rhetoric)

Sociological Research Online: Volume 14, Issue 5

Publication date30/11/2009
PublisherSage / University of Surrey, University of Stirling, and the British Sociological Association

People (1)


Professor Cate Watson

Professor Cate Watson

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences