Barbieri Masinis Human and Social Futures Studies Approach
Developed by Eleonora Barbieri Masini and used in various studies, the Human and Social
Futures Studies approach is described succinctly by Barbieri Masini and Medina Vasquez
in a article published as part of a special issue of Technological Forecasting and
Social Change on scenarios, published in 2000 .
The authors state that, This approach is considered appropriate for developing
countries or for international organizations, above all those working on development.
In this context, the scenarios must be adaptable, and above all, must represent a
method of cultural mediation and conflict negotiation.
A group of decision makers
The scenario analyst(s)
Build a database (description of the system chosen in the present).
Delimit the system chosen and its general context (e.g., using interviews, questionnaires,
specialist seminars, brain-storming sessions, etc.). Avoid widening the context too much.
Describe the system and its components, in terms of: (a) internal variables; (b) external
Identify key variables (done by group of decision makers).
Identify factors of breakdown (i.e., what might make the system fail to function as expected?).
Identify the actors in the present, in the past, and in terms of their strategic decisions. This
must be documented.
Formulate key questions or hypothetical scenarios (in if X then Y format). Do not carry
out this step at an earlier stage.
Build scenarios and definition of the temporal horizon (e.g., trend, utopian, catastrophic,
normative and, if necessary, contrasting scenarios).
Identify the actions required by the various scenarios (including cost/benefit analysis).
 Barbieri Masini, Eleonora and Javier Medina Vasquez. 2000.
Scenarios as Seen from a Human and Social Perspective,
Technological Forecasting and Social Change65, 49-66.