Possibility and the Temporal Imagination

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial (Academic Journal)peer-review


At the heart of possibility thinking is time. In this paper I argue for the necessity of cultivating a ‘temporal imagination’ to help in our discernment of possibilities in the world. I argue that the ways we think about and live in time – whether we are drawn to focus on pasts or futures, see the world through linear or cyclical frames, and create habitual rhythms to synchronise ourselves – is a form of invisible power that structures our perceptions of reality. A temporal imagination, I argue, enables us to unsettle our own temporal assumptions and habits, attend to the multiple rhythms and temporal narratives at play in any given situation, and notice how temporal features constitute faultlines and points of alignment in contemporary debates. Cultivating the temporal imagination as a possibility practice, foregrounds how the stories we tell of time and the timescapes that we live within, shape our sense of the possible, the inevitable and the impossible, and opens up new pathways to alternative worlds. In this paper I offer a short introduction to thinking with time as a reflective practice and propose a set of key questions to cultivate the temporal imagination within Possibility Studies. I conclude with a provocation to the emerging field of Possibility Studies, and indeed, to any researchers interested in research as emancipatory practice, to consider how our own temporal practices might better enact a form of pluriversal politics and challenge the foreclosure of possibility by chronopolitics.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalPossibility Studies and Society
Early online date11 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2023

Structured keywords

  • ESRC Centre for Sociodigital Futures


Dive into the research topics of 'Possibility and the Temporal Imagination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this