No SDES-2017-4
Title Becoming Sympathetic to the Needs of Future Generations:A Phenomenological Study of Participation in Future Design Workshops
Author Yoshinori NAKAGAWA, Keishiro HARA and Tatsuyoshi SAIJO
Abstract Many important problems threatening global sustainability contain an inherent intergenerational dilemma, in that actions taken by present generations in their own interest could place additional burdens on future generations. Previous research in future studies has applied participatory approaches such as backcasting and scenario planning in an effort to identify effective sustainability strategies as well as to encourage social learning and empowerment. However, few of them considered how it can be expected that participants to workshops adopting these approaches become sympathetic to the needs of future generations and threaten the benefits of their own. This phenomenological psychological study aimed to resolve this intergenerational paradox by applying Future Design, a new variant in the family of future studies approaches, in workshops conducted by a municipal government in Japan. Qualitative study of the participants’ subjective experiences determined that the experience of playing the part of the member of a future generation leads to the recognition that identities of the present and future generations have already been coexisting inside a single person. This discovery produces a sense of intellectual satisfaction, rather than dissonance, because acquisition of the future generation identity enables the person to reflect on the present generation identity with a sense of superiority. The fruit of this satisfaction can be enjoyed only at the expense of the cognitive load of becoming disengaged from the present. The positive emotions that accompany this achievement were identified as a motivation to adopt positions that favor sustainability and the needs of future generations. Practical implications for future studies scholars who wish to maximize the benefit of stakeholder participation are also discussed.
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