Thus a crucial difficulty in anticipating futures lies in long-term shifts in structures of feeling, of thought as felt and feeling as thought. So when I argue for seeing futures as ‘social’, it is also to emphasize how there can be changes over the longue durée, tectonic shifts in the structure of feeling that are often hard to identify by those living through that particular period. Although few notice such changes as they occur, these may nevertheless turn out to have long-term consequences.


Such structures of feeling are a bit like ‘dark matter’, which is said to be by far the commonest feature of the universe. Such dark matter cannot be observed but it affects other matter through gravitational pull. Analogously, changes in the structure of feeling affect the power of social groups, and social institutions, and yet are hard to identify, document and – especially – measure.

john urry

Urry, J. (2016). What is the future? Polity Press.