In my MSF program, we review all sorts of different theories of society & societal. These theories have direct implication on our theories and visions of the future. There are many different approaches in the futurist discipline; there are basic/gestalt theories, systems thinking theories, and more semiotic approaches. My favorite approach by far combines the strength of each of the aforementioned theories into a meta-theory/framework model called Causal Layered Analysis, or CLA. Developed by Sohail Inayatullah, CLA looks at the future from four interdependent layers. Quoth Wikipedia:
- The first level is the litany – the official unquestioned view of reality.
- The second level is the social causation level, the systemic perspective. The data of the litany is explained and questioned at this level.
- The third level is the worldview/discourse. Deeper, unconsciously held ideological, worldview and discursive assumptions are unpacked at this level. The way in which different stakeholders construct the litany and system are also explored.
- The fourth level is the myth-metaphor, the unconscious emotive dimensions of the issue. The challenge is to conduct research that moves up and down these layers of analysis and thus is inclusive of different ways of knowing. Doing so allows for the creation of authentic alternative futures and integrated transformation. CLA begins and ends by questioning the future.
Fun stuff, eh? Most American futures studies programs focus exclusively on the Litany and – at most – systemic levels. The schools of foresight developed out of Hawaii, Australia, Europe and Japan focus more on epistemes and intuitive inner/spiritual futures – almost like a wisdom school. (In fact, that’s exactly what Prout College is – and I mean that as a high compliment.) The Regent MSF program – and KedgeForward Consulting – combine the best of Southern Hemisphere-meets-west, empirical and intuitive, into what we hope is an AQAL approach to truly integral futures. Taking all quadrants of human and nonhuman experience into account – inner and external worlds, personal and social. Kedge On!
Ahem. Back to CLA. You can get lost for hours on Dr. Inayatullah’s insightful website Metafuture. In fact, I highly recommend doing so.