The Futures of Communities

Special issue of Futures

Guest editors:

Fabrice Roubelat, University of Poitiers, Graduate School of Business, fabrice.roubelat@univ-poitiers
Anne Marchais-Roubelat, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, 
Jamie Brassett, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, 

Whether transnational, scientific, artistic, academic, professional or religious, digital or traditional, communities take part in the making of history and prospective futures. Together with the concept of the stakeholder (Cairns, Goodwin and Wright, 2016), the concept of community has emerged in futures literature over the last decade (Roberts, 2010; Botta, 2016), including the one of community of practice (Fuller and Warren, 2006). Becoming digital, communities stress the issue of the ephemerality (Roubelat, Brassett, McAllum, Hoffmann and Kera, 2015) of the futures they shape or transform over time, whilst communities are often regarded in a long range, if not slow living, perspective (Botta, 2016). But, as Tony Stevenson (2002) pointed out with his “Community, community”, this concept addresses so many social and organizational structures that it runs the risk of being nothing more than a buzzword if it is not connected to the issues, insights and rigour offered by future-oriented critique.

Communities question the autonomy of their members (Watson, Boudreau, Greiner, Wynn, York, Gul, 2005) as well as their ability to shape different futures and to act independently. This question of individual autonomy in relation to communities, raises the issues of power and dominance at different scales, between the various stakeholders (Marchais-Roubelat and Roubelat, 2016) – be they individuals, corporations, NGO or nation-states – who rule, challenge or become significant for a short period of time to make the future. Stakeholders’ empowerment addresses the governance of communities that includes multi-layer and transnational organizations, as well as the issues of responsibility, accountability and transparency (Tonn, Scheb, Fitzerald and Stiefel, 2012). Over time the capacity of resilience of communities also probes their ability to manage extreme scenarios and global issues such as the governance of global commons, while on the other hand their risk of fragmentation stresses the difficulty for stakeholders to manage communities of interest.

For futures methodology, communities offer a concept that supplements the ones of actors and stakeholders in scenario design, to be played in scenario approaches such as backcasting studies, extreme or action-based scenarios. As an organizing process, scenario planning and foresight may also be based on communities to explore their systems of beliefs and the related emerging paradigms, not to mention the online communities likely to support foresight processes (Zeng, Kohler and Jahn, 2019).

The aim of this special issue of Futures is to publish articles proposing:

– critical assessment of future-oriented decision and policy-making processes involving communities at various levels (local, national or global communities, online communities);

– novel methodological approaches introducing the concept of community in foresight and scenario design;

– discussions of the future temporalities and of the transformations of communities over time, including scenarios on the futures of specific communities (including transnational, professional, artistic and scientific communities);

– analyses of the role of communities in the anticipation and the management of sustainability issues such as the ruling of global commons in a long-range and future-oriented perspective.

Submission of papers.

Articles submitted for publication in FUTURES must show awareness of the futures field and make an original contribution to the advancement of knowledge in futures studies.

This journal operates a double blind review process. All contributions will be initially assessed by the editor for suitability for the journal. Papers deemed suitable are then typically sent to a minimum of two independent expert reviewers to assess the scientific quality of the paper.

Deadlines and submission instructions

Papers may be submitted from March 30th 2019

Deadline for submissions of new papers is September 30th 2019

Expected date of online publication of papers is 3 weeks from final acceptance

Expected publishing date of Special Issue is approximately June 2020

Please read the guidance to authors before submitting:

Submit papers online at:

Click on “Submit Your Paper”

Log into the Elsevier online submission system ‘Evise’, registering if you are not already registered.

On the page titled Enter Manuscript Information

Select type of Issue: <community futures>

Article type: (full length article)


Botta M. (2016), “Evolution of the slow living concept within the models of sustainable communities”, Futures, 80, 3–16.

Cairns G., Goodwin P., Wright G. (2016), “A decision-analysis-based framework for analysing stakeholder behaviour in scenario planning”, European Journal of Operational Research, 249:3, 1050–1062.

Fuller T., Warren L. (2006), “Entrepreneurship as foresight: A complex social network perspective on organisational foresight”, Futures, 38, 956–971.

Marchais-Roubelat A., Roubelat F. (2016), “Dominance, stakeholders’ moves and leadership shifts: New directions for transforming futures”, Futures, 80, 45–53.

Roberts J. (2010), “Community and international business futures: Insights from software production”, Futures, 42, 926–936.

Roubelat F., Brassett J., McAllum M., Hoffmann J., Kera D. (2015), “Probing ephemeral futures: Scenarios as fashion design”, Futures, 74, 27–36.

Stevenson T. (2002), “Communities of tomorrow”, Futures, 34, 735-744.

Tonn B., Scheb J., Fitzgerald M., Stiefel D. (2012), “Future of governance workshop summary”, Futures, 44, 773–777.

Watson R. T., Boudreau M.-C., Greiner M., Wynn D., York P., Gul R. (2005), “Governance and global communities”, Journal of International Management, 11, 125–142

Zeng M. A., Koller H., Jahn R. (2019), “Open radar groups: The integration of online communities into open foresight processes”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 138, 204–217.

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