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Against history: the role of history in current Dutch society

Patrick van der Duin (Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 23 October 2007




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how Dutch society is dealing with its history and why the past is a bad guide to the future.


The paper is a desk research based on newspaper articles and other literature.


The paper finds that Dutch society is strongly influenced by its history but past solutions for current societal problems that are based on historical analogies are wrong and even dangerous.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is focused only on Dutch society. It would be interesting to see whether the Dutch situation is also applicable to other Western European countries.

Practical implications

To make the Dutch society more future‐oriented there are four recommendations: make “the future” a subject in schools; extend the Dutch government mandates to eight years; force managers and politicians to measure their investments, plans and ideas against future developments; and the foundation of a future museum and a canon for the future.


Most futures researchers do not oppose history as a guide to the future because they often (wrongly) see the past as a source of information and knowledge that can serve the future.



van der Duin, P. (2007), "Against history: the role of history in current Dutch society", Foresight, Vol. 9 No. 6, pp. 11-21.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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