Jumpstarting the Future with Fredric Jameson: Reflections on Capitalism, Science Fiction and Utopia

Christian De Cock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore conceptions of radical change and utopianism in the work of Philip K. Dick and Fredrick Jameson in order to challenge the neo-liberal orthodoxy that historical change is no longer possible. The paper relates this orthodoxy to the dominance of the realist novel as a literary genre and contrasts this with the fantastic and delirious world found in Dick's science fiction. Design/methodology/approach: Jameson's dialectical criticism is combined with aspects of a Benjaminian montage to explore the relationships between ideology, material social organization and the forms of specific literary genres. This approach simultaneously denaturalises the present and opens up the future to the possibility of radical change without delimiting that future by prescribing its form. In this respect the paper is concerned with utopianism rather than representations of Utopia. Findings: The paper shows how the realist novel functioned within a conservative social ideology to prevent change. In contrast works of fantasy like Dick's science fiction open up new possibilities for change and a future that is not entirely delimited by the present but, by denaturing the present, opens it up to a virtual indeterminacy that is the space of freedom. Originality/value: Theoretically, the paper extends conceptions of radical social and organizational change by considering the limits of dominant conceptions of change and of radical conceptions that seek to represent Utopia. Methodologically the paper contributes to readings of novels in organization studies by introducing Jameson's dialectical criticism and through a critique of the dominant preoccupation in the discipline with realist novels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)437-449
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Fiction
  • Capitalist systems
  • Authorship
  • Social change
  • Organizational change

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