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The foresight or futurology ( Latin futurum " Future " and -logie ) is the "systematic and critical scientific examination of questions of possible future developments '' in the technical, economic and social fields". Among other things, it uses methods, procedures and techniques as they were (and are) developed by prognostics and combines qualitative and quantitative methods.


The term futurology was introduced in 1943 by Ossip K. Flechtheim . He sees futurology as a synthesis of ideology and utopia , but admits that the term does not (yet) imply a scientific claim . The foresight has originated primarily in the US, mainly after the Second World War. In Europe, France was the pioneering country with authors such as Bertrand de Jouvenel and Jean Fourastié as well as with the state “Planification” and the Association Futuribles. In Germany, in addition to Flechtheim, Wilhelm Fucks (1965) and Karl Steinbuch (1971) should be mentioned. As the term "futures studies" has meanwhile established itself in English, the term future research is predominantly used in German for the scientific discussion of possible, probable and foreseeable future developments instead of the term futurology (cf. for the discussion, among others, Popp / Schüll 2008). Rolf Kreibich 2009 gives an overview with an assessment of the future of futurology .

From April 2010 to December 2013 Daniel Barben held the first professorship for futurology in Germany at the Institute for Political Science at RWTH Aachen University , which was not filled. Heiko Andreas von der Gracht has held the chair for futurology at Steinbeis University Berlin since December 2018 .


Kreibich defines futurology 2006 as "the scientific engagement with possible, desirable and probable future developments and design options as well as their prerequisites in the past and present." This definition is widely accepted in scientific futurology, whereby its scientific nature "differentiates it from numerous pseudoscientific activities such as trend research ',' Prophecy 'or' science fiction 'are fundamentally [subject] to all quality criteria that science places on good cognitive strategies and powerful models: relevance, logical consistency, simplicity, verifiability, terminological clarity, specification of the range, explication of the premises and the boundary conditions, transparency, practical manageability, etc. a. "

Future models

Future model according to Pillkahn

Dealing with the future requires a strict distinction between actual knowledge and belief, extrapolation and conjecture, estimation and speculation. The representation makes this clear. Plato and Kant already tried to differentiate ( line parable ).

The other axis shows the spectrum of change and shows that the future does not develop linearly from today. The spectrum begins with the constant area through the changes with increasing change dynamics up to chaos.

In this future space there are certain areas (e.g. trends ) that can be investigated using the methods of exact sciences in the sense of future research. The model shows that only a small part of the future is covered by trends, even if trends are often the most popular future instruments. A very essential element are unforeseeable innovations, which can nonetheless be included in the considerations as possibilities: There will be something that we do not know today, just as nobody “knew” about the Internet in Bismarck's time.

In contrast to market research, which depicts the past using the “counting” method, and trend research, which describes the present using the “observation” method, futurology tries to determine the future using extrapolation. The core model is to define the "possible" futures in the first step and to derive the "probable" futures from this in the second step.



  • "As I see there is no people, no matter how refined and educated, no matter how raw and ignorant they are, that do not believe that the future can be interpreted and recognized and predicted by certain people." ( Cicero )


  • Bertrand de Jouvenel: The art of foresight . 1967.
  • Benjamin Bühler, Stefan Willer (ed.): Futurologies: Orders of future knowledge . Paderborn: W. Fink, 2016. ISBN 978-3-7705-5901-5 .
  • Achim Eberspächer: The Futurology Project. On the future and progress in the Federal Republic 1952–1982 , Schöningh, Paderborn 2019 (History of technical culture, Volume 2), ISBN 978-3-506-78549-7 .
  • Hans-Peter Dürr , Rolf Kreibich (Ed.): Future research in the field of tension between visions and everyday actions . IZT, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-929173-64-6 .
  • Alexander Fink / Andreas Siebe: Future Management Manual , 2nd updated and expanded edition, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt 2011, ISBN 978-3-593-39550-0 .
  • Ossip K. Flechtheim : Futurology. The fight for the future. Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1971.
  • Wilhelm Fucks : Formulas for Power. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1965; 4th revised edition 1970. Rowohlt, Reinbek b. Hamburg. ISBN 3-499-16601-1 .
  • Herman Kahn , Anthony J. Wiener: You will experience it. Molden, Vienna 1967.
  • Rolf Kreibich: Future research. IZT, Berlin 2006 ( online , PDF).
  • Reinhold Popp , Elmar Schüll: Future research and design, contributions from science and practice. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-78563-7 .
  • Ernst R. Sandvoss: Space Philosophy: Philosophy in the age of space travel. Marixverlag, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-86539-151-3 .
  • Elke Seefried: Futures. The rise and crisis of futurology 1945–1980 , Berlin a. a. (de Gruyter Oldenbourg) 2015 (also habilitation thesis Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München 2013). ISBN 978-3-11-034816-3 . ISBN 978-3-11-034912-2
  • Karl Steinbuch : People, Technology, Future. Basic knowledge for tomorrow's problems. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1971, ISBN 3-421-02267-4 .
  • Gereon Uerz: The day after tomorrow. Concepts of the future as elements of the social construction of reality. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Paderborn 2006, ISBN 3-7705-4305-X .
  • Rainer Waterkamp: Futurology and Future Planning. Research results and approaches to public planning , Stuttgart (Kohlhammer) 1970.
  • Peter Zellmann : The future of work. Many will do something different , Molden, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-85485-258-2 .
  • Peter Zellmann: The future traps: where they are hidden. How we handle them , Österreichische V.-G., Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-7067-0085-6 .
  • Peter Zellmann, Horst W. Opaschowski : Die Zukunftsgesellschaft , Österreichische V.-G., Vienna 2005, ISBN 978-3-7067-0031-3 .

Trade journals


Associations & networks for future research

Web links

Wiktionary: Futurology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Futurology. ( Memento of the original from May 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Definition in Wissen.de . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.wissen.de
  2. Duden. German universal dictionary. Dudenverlag, Mannheim, Leipzig, Vienna [4. Edition] 2001. ISBN 3-411-05504-9
  3. a b Flechtheim: Futurologie , p. 233.
  4. ^ R. Kreibich: The future of futurology Ossip K. Flechtheim - 100 years (PDF; 71 kB). Work Report No. 32/2009, IZT, Berlin 2009.
  5. Chair for Future Research (press release). Institute for Political Science - RWTH Aachen University, 2014, accessed on June 10, 2019 .
  6. Future research, economic research and leadership (press release). School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) GmbH, December 19, 2018, accessed on June 10, 2019 .
  7. ^ R. Kreibich: Future research . ArbeitsBeicht No. 23/2006, IZT, Berlin 2006, p. 3.
  8. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero: Von der Weissagung - De divinatione , translated, introduced and explained by Raphael Kühner, Munich 1962, p. 15.