Exploring the Power of the Imagination as a Force for Change
The imagination is more than a private dream-world: it can transform social life, cultural meanings and even economic institutions. As Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Dr. Max Haiven is examining the power of the imagination in two key areas—economics and social justice.
Haiven is looking at how economic phenomena—especially in the world of high finance—are driven by cultural ideas, norms and creativity. How, after all, do billions of dollars appear and disappear on stock markets in the blink of an eye? Did that money ever exist, or was it a figment of the imagination? This “imaginary money,” like the imagination more generally, has very real power over our lives. Rising levels of personal debt, for instance, profoundly shape how we are able to envision our personal and collective futures.
Haiven and his research team are exploring how imaginary money gets made and how it influences society more broadly. They are also focusing on the radical imagination, especially as expressed by social justice movements in Canada and around the world. Radical imagination is the ability to imagine the world, life and social institutions not as they are, but as they might otherwise be. Haiven and his team are interested in determining how activists are responding to modern financial and economic pressures like globalization, austerity measures, debt and free-market policies.
By collaborating with students, activists and colleagues around the world, Haiven and his team also hope to determine how their findings and other research in this area can be broadly shared using emerging communications technologies like social media, online audio and video, teleconferencing and on-demand and hybrid publishing.