Future Talk: Accounting for the Technological and Other Future Discourses in Daily Life

Meryl Alper


Popular visions of futurity largely focus on one kind of future—that of technology. In this article, I consider how these conceptions and their implications are not fully grasped without accounting for nontechnical futures as well. Drawing on qualitative research with parents of children with developmental disabilities, centering on discussions of their child’s media and technology use, I introduce “future talk” as a conceptual framework for identifying how discourses of the future and of technology co-constitute one another to bring about particular future orientations. Four discourses of future talk were found: individual, societal, technological, and “nonfuture” projections. In short, individuals not only orient themselves to technological futures, but also orient technology to their personal understandings of the future. I close with a discussion of how “future talk” might be used by communication scholars to map how ordinary conversations about the future manifest in everyday life.


children, disability, future, parenting, technology

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