Futuribles Journal n° 444

Institutions - Santé - Société, modes de vie

Pre-Covid Society is Dead. What Happens Next?

Par

The connections between (science-)fiction and foresight studies are of particular interest to us at Futuribles, as is attested by the last two ‘Vigie System’ Reports in which a number of themes are illustrated with relevant extracts from works of science-fiction or by the series of articles published in 2016-17 in Futuribles journal. Virginie Tournay also draws in this article on a contribution from imaginative literature to cast light on the future that might be emerging out of this state of shock and crisis that has existed over the last year and a half in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

Tournay, who is both a research director at the CEVIPOF (Reference Centre for Political Science) and a fiction author, mobilizes the two — rational and imaginary — registers to test out the reactions of our society and the ways it might restructure itself following the changes to collective life we have experienced. After identifying various weak signals and drawing on speculative fiction (What if…?), she shows how the health emergency might affect the cornerstones of national cohesion in France. Drawing also on the work of the ‘Red Team’ (of which she is a member), she starts out from a fictional base to explore the impact of the crisis on our ways of living together and our relation to government: to assess what has been lost and what we might be moving towards, as developments that were emerging before the crisis (in terms of public freedoms, trust in institutions, etc.) are accentuated. But if fiction contributes to describing what we have lost of our pre-Covid lives, it can also speak of the dangers of what is replacing that, such as, for example, the delusional pursuit of a zero-risk society. And here is where the challenge lies as we emerge from the crisis: we have to continue to function as a society while accepting a degree of unpredictability…

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