The method of constructing scenarios is neither straightforward nor unproblematic. We propose first of all the term epistemic closure for representing the necessary methodological limitations of scenario construction. Whenever a particular kind of epistemic closure becomes a habit within some field of scenario-making, we use the term conventional scenarios. The problem with conventional scenario-making is that its analysis of the future is restricted – it can only register the events and trends that its particular approach allows it to see. There is a risk of highly contingent developments, for which there is no preparation in society. Therefore, we want to emphasize the importance of constructing unconventional scenarios, that is, scenarios that are not based on conventional epistemic closure. Our second argument concerns the wide range of variance in future development. Social evolution includes events and developmental trajectories that are impossible to discern with any approach that represents development in a linear fashion. Most scenarios consider the past to be a model for the future, in which existing trends are projected into the future. We call these scenarios trend-based. Other scenarios – called Event-based scenarios – acknowledge that the future is contingent in relation to our knowledge, and focus more on the fact that the pattern of change can change. To illustrate our methodological arguments, a small case study on the future of aquaculture in the archipelago of southwestern Finland is included in the text.
Keywords: scenario methodology, contingency, aquaculture, Finland
Brunn, H., J. Hukkinen and E. Eklund. Scenarios as Radical Alternatives: The Case of Aquaculture in the Finnish Archipelago Sea. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.