Scenario archetypes: converging rather than diverging themes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Future scenarios provide challenging, plausible and relevant stories about how the future could unfold. Urban Futures (UF) research has identified a substantial set (≥450) of seemingly disparate scenarios published over the period 1997-2011 and within this research, a sub-set of ≥160 scenarios has been identified (and categorized) based on their narratives according to the structure first proposed by the Global Scenario Group (GSG) in 1997; three world types (Business as Usual, Barbarization, and Great Transitions) and six scenarios, two for each world type (Policy Reform-PR, Market Forces-MF, Breakdown-B, Fortress World-FW, Eco-Communalism-EC and New Sustainability Paradigm-NSP). It is suggested that four of these scenario archetypes (MF, PR, NSP and FW) are sufficiently distinct to facilitate active stakeholder engagement in futures thinking. Moreover they are accompanied by a well-established, internally consistent set of narratives that provide a deeper understanding of the key fundamental drivers (e.g., STEEP-Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political) that could bring about realistic world changes through a push or a pull effect. This is testament to the original concept of the GSG scenarios and their development and refinement over a 16 year period.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-772
Number of pages33
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2012


  • sustainability, future scenarios, scenario archetypes