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Photo of Tobias Olofsson.

Tobias Olofsson


Photo of Tobias Olofsson.

The present is a knife’s edge : St. Augustine’s philosophical presentism and the politics of expectation


  • Tobias Olofsson

Summary, in English

The ways in which expectations for the future shape how actors and organizations make sense of the present has received growing interest and attention among science and technology scholars – with particular attention being paid to the role of expectations and prediction making in technology and finance. Nevertheless, while the imaginaries involved in the futures described by tech-entrepreneurs and financial market actors are new, their promissory work has ancient precursors; and so does the scholarly enterprise of studying how futures are made to matter in the present.

This paper highlights the relevance of the philosophical presentism of 5th century philosopher and theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo for present day science and technology studies of the future as a socio-technical entity. Drawing on examples from three empirical studies into the production and use of predictions in mineral exploration, literary publishing, and pandemic management the paper explores how the future’s non-existence – a central tenet of presentism – play into the politics of the present and how actors and organizations use projections of possible futures to make sense of and shape the room for action in the present.


  • Department of Sociology

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Sociology

Conference name

EASST 2022

Conference date

2022-07-06 - 2022-07-09

Conference place

Madrid, Spain




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