Futurs d'antan, Futuribles Journal n° 396

The Interfutures Study of 1979 Revisited

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Around 35 years ago a vast foresight exercise was launched under the auspices of the OECD. It led in 1979 to the publication of an almost 500-page report on the future of the world (economy, societies, North-South relations, interdependence etc.) as it might be anticipated at the time. This exercise, which was carried out under the leadership of Jacques Lesourne and dubbed the Interfutures study, was an international landmark in the history of foresight studies. This was partly because of its ambitious nature and partly on account of its determinedly qualitative stance, being based on scenario-building and recommendations for political action.

Bruno Hérault goes back over the history of Interfutures here –the context in which it was developed, the organization of the study and the tenor of the report it produced (in particular, the scenarios proposed and the recommendations to those in government). He goes on to show how the programme turned out to be quite clear-sighted about the development of societies and globalization, which was only just emerging at the time. He concludes by highlighting the strengths and limitations of the method employed.

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