Skip to main content

social forecasting

social forecasting An approach to social theory which attempts to outline the probabilities of a range of historical tendencies. The classic example is Daniel Bell's The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973), which carries the subtitle ‘A Venture in Social Forecasting’. Bell distinguishes his enterprise from earlier (discredited) attempts to formalize rules of prediction pertaining to particular social circumstances. Social forecasting, by contrast, attempts only to outline probabilities, and is possible only where ‘there are regularities and recurrences of phenomena’; or where there are trends whose direction ‘can be plotted within statistical time-series or be formulated as historical tendencies’; and where ‘one can assume a high degree of rationality on the part of the men who influence events’. Since (as Bell admits) these conditions rarely obtain, social forecasters are often restricted to specifying the constraints within which certain policy decisions can be made effective, rather than predicting the results of particular decisions.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"social forecasting." A Dictionary of Sociology. . 20 Aug. 2018 <>.

"social forecasting." A Dictionary of Sociology. . (August 20, 2018).

"social forecasting." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved August 20, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.