Werner Reichmann

Die Visualisierung der wirtschaftlichen Zukunft

Skopische Medien, Wissenskulturen und Sehgemeinschaften

[The Visualization of the Economic Future – Scopic Media, Epistemic Cultures and See Communities]

Although we do not yet have developed apparatus, methods or experimental designs to empirically forecast the future, we are frequently confronted with images of the economic future. In this paper, it is asked how a certain group of economic forecasters visualize the economic future and how it is possible to understand visual communication of the economic future. The data underlying this paper include a full survey of all kinds of documents published by economic forecast organizations from 2008 until today in the German speaking countries (A, CH, GER). Furthermore, 31 interviews with economic forecasters and users of economic forecasts were conducted. First, it is stated that economic forecasters produce a highly standardized visualization of the economic future that the author suggests to call the ‘dominant figure’. It is shown that forecasters obey implicit conventions when producing images of the future. Second, it is argued that the dominant figure works like a ‘scopic medium’ that makes something present that is not real at the moment (and may never become real). Doing that, the scopic medium reproduces a certain epistemic culture. And third, using Ludwik Fleck’s famous idea of ‘thought collectives’ it is argued that those who view and understand the dominant figure of economic forecasting are part of a particular ‘see collective’.

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