From Signals to Scenarios: What can media discourses tell us about the future of our democracies?

Foresight - or future thinking - provides scope for people to think about what possibilities the future might hold. In the EUARENAS project, we have been investigating with how contemporary media discourses (i.e., what the media is talking about) can help us identify future signals about our societies and democracies.


As part of this work, we have recently run an online workshop for citizens, researchers, people working in the policy arena and civil society actors to look at different pieces of media content from across Europe and use this as stimuli to start to talk about the future. The media content we looked at highlighted how issues such as climate change, migration, human rights, and failings in democracy were all key issues now, and this sparked discussion about the opportunities and challenges for our future worlds.



When thinking about democracy, some of the key challenges identified in the workshop were:

  • How do we mobilise people to be a part of creating the change they want to see and move from talk to action?

  • How do inequalities and structural issues impact on how our democracies work and who is included in them?

  • How do we work with differing priorities between different people, organisations and countries in ways that make useful progress on issues?


Despite these challenges, there were also opportunities identified such as a growing understanding of politics and political processes in certain demographics, using technology to support people’s involvement in democracy and change-making agendas, and using the forced changes that COVID-19 has brought about to galvanise change in other areas and do it quicker than we would have been able to do before.


These findings - and others from foresight activities being undertaken in the EUARENAS - will be synthesised into an insight briefing that we will be launching late Autumn 2021. Later in the year, we will also be sharing with you later a ‘toolkit’ for using media discourses to explore the future. So watch this space!

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