Understanding and attempting to get a sense of where things are headed is important to an industry that needs to reflect the mood of society and predict where it’s heading in the future. The Broad’s day job is writing about marketing and media – campaigns, brands, technology, data as well as future trends.
One of the things of most interest right now is the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, consumers and tapping into the zeitgeist – in as much as there’s a common thread running through our thoughts and feelings at the moment.
One of the experts the industry loves are futurists. The Broad has to confess to you readers that when encountering one of these future conjurers it usually involves a large eye-roll. But lately I’ve been curious to hear from those people attempting to make sense of things, given how quickly and how comprehensively our certainties and expectations are being challenged.
Tracey Follows is one such futurist who gave a virtual presentation at last week’s Cannes Lion Live, the ad world event attached to the Cannes Film Festival. It was all online this year which has allowed journos like your’s truely to tune in remotely.
When the pandemic is behind us and we’ve had enough of virtual living, according to Follows, we’ll find ourselves in a ‘postnormal’ era. Folks, in addition to coming to grips with the ‘new normal’ and ‘postcovid’ we’ll also now be soon entering ‘postnormal’. Briefly, Follows argues that in the face of increasing complexity, we’ll need to develop new ways of responding by navigating rather than managing. And by 2030 we’ll find ourselves in a mediated world managed with communications and responsiveness – Postnormal
Follows has also established the Female Futures Bureau, an organisation that supports women futurists, which can include academics and researchers as well as innovators, science fiction writers and designers. When futurists appear at events the Broad has attended, they’re usually male, so it makes a nice change to see women talking about the big picture and supporting other women to be on panels and speakers at events.
Another futurist, Andrea Bell, says we’re entering ‘desynchronised society’ where people continue to do many of the same things, but no longer do them at the same time as others. And people are looking for simplicity, making sense of complex things, and safety.
Futurist Mark Pesce says we’re seeing the start of cleanliness capitalism as businesses look to reduce people’s unease about the virus and we can expect to see the rise of new positions such as chief health officer or chief biosecurity officer. Putting the crystal ball away, there’s a lot plenty to consider in the near future as we continue through this pandemic and emerge from the crisis.
A Note On the Australian Future
The Australia Institute, a left-leaning think tank with a progressive agenda, has been hosting a series of virtual discussions on the economics of a pandemic and how we can rebuild the economy and society with an agenda of equality and fairness. Protecting democracy, ensuring workers’ right, the Green New Deal, Inequality in a Pandemic, climate action and the role of renewables in recovery are some of the discussions.
Economic reform, however, can’t happen without the right political environment and in this Inside Story article, Adam Triggs argues how in Australia Post-Covid-19 reforms will need the right national political framework to succeed. Wholesale economic reform, from taxation to industrial relations and climate policy, which is what the country needs, require cooperation at all levels.
“But Australia’s history shows that the only way to get meaningful, widespread reform is to develop a national political framework that takes a big-picture approach to reform, brings relevant jurisdictions together, and gives state and territory governments financial and political incentives to do the heavy lifting.”
“The sheer scale of the Covid-19 economic shock means that the piecemeal, business-as-usual reforms that have characterised the last twenty-five years will be like a glass of water on a bushfire.”
A Note on PostCovid Books
In case you’ve got more time and need to dig deeper into the forces shaping the world as we continue through this pandemic and out the other side, here’s an excellent round-up of books focused on comparing the health care between different countries, deconstructing American Trump-era politics, the China threat, deconstructing the problems of neoliberalism and how it’s crucial to improve women’s participation in the economy.
“Historic structures have placed women into an almost entirely separate and restricted economic sphere, and this arrangement tangibly limits growth, widens inequality and fosters instability.”
In The Double X Economy scholar and activist Linda Scott argues that women’s systematic exclusion from economic participation has created an alternate system that she calls “the Double X Economy”. By having suffered severe and worldwide economic exclusions throughout history, women have been shaped into an entirely different economic practice. Yet while the women’s economy, taken as a whole, is restricted and constantly under threat, when empowered it is more careful, cooperative, and focused on long-term outcomes than the economic order under which the world lives now.
Journalist Kerry-Anne Mendoza in Austerity: The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy examines how the UK, living under the “hammer of austerity” has inflicted wage freezes, slashed public spending and benefits and inflicted pain on ordinary people, and that was before the horrors of coronavirus hit the country.
A Note on PostPandemic Reading
This New York Times article says plagues of years gone by can give us a clue as to how the current coronavirus might impact on workers. The US is having one of the worst experiences of the coronavirus for many reasons, and one of them could be thanks to Trump dismantling country’s pandemic response structures developed under Obama. And is China looking to fill the void left by Trump’s negligent leadership?
Main photo credit: Photo by Tony Reid on Unsplash