Ideologies of Time: How Elite Corporate Actors Engage the Future

Christina Berg Johansen, Christian De Cock

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Our article deals with how elite corporate actors in a Western capitalist-democratic society conceive of and prepare for the future. Paying attention to how senior officers of 10 important Danish companies make sense of the future will help us to identify how particular temporal narratives are ideologically marked. This ideological dimension offers a common sense frame that is structured around a perceived inevitability of capitalism, a market economy as the basic organizational structure of the social and economic order, and an assumption of confident access to the future. Managers envisage their organization’s future and make plans for organizational action in a space where ‘business as usual’ reigns, and there is little engagement with the future as fundamentally open – as a time-yet-to-come. In using a conceptual lens inspired by the work of Fredric Jameson, we first explore the details of this presentism and a particular colonization of the future and then linger over small disruptions in the narratives of our interviewees which point to what escapes or jars their common sense frame, explore the implicit meanings they assign to their agency and also find clues and traces of temporal actions and strategies in their narratives that point to a subtly different engagement with time.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)186-204
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Corporate strategy
  • Future
  • History
  • Ideology
  • Jameson
  • Sustainability
  • Time

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