This research discusses the many possibilities of the future society with the public, and suggests methods and processes to move towards a future society desired by the public. It also explains the reasons for and effects of having the public participate in the process of identifying the directions of mid- to long-term national strategies.
Existing studies on the future of the society passively take into account the public’s participation. The studies normally suggested the vision and strategies of the future society based on the opinions from policymakers or expert groups, and asked for the public’s opinions on those issues. However, this research actively includes in the participation of the public in the process of forming the vision and strategies for the future society, and identifies the desired future society of the public and how to make it into reality.
The research team first set the three value axes that should be considered when designing a future society, including change and stability, future-oriented and present-oriented, and individual freedom and community and solidarity. With these axes, the research team came up with four types of scenarios on the future society, including the rapidly growing society, stable growth society, sustainable distribution society, and the current distribution society. With these future scenarios, the research team asked the opinions of 502 citizens in Seoul, Daejeon, and Busan regarding these scenarios. There were in-depth discussions for more than five hours to talk about the future society desired by the public. Also, there was a survey on the desired future for experts in various fields to compare their answers to those of the public. In addition, the research team also investigated possible policy projects to realize the desired future.
The results showed that 43% of the public participants desired a sustainable distribution society. The major values of the sustainable distribution society include the coexistence of rural and urban areas, active responses to climate change, a symbiotic relationship between conglomerates and SMEs, freedom to move within the labor market, cooperation, and social responsibilities. Sixty-three percent of the expert groups (65 experts) also desired a sustainable distribution society. The experts claimed that the desired future should be more challenge-oriented during these times of rapid scientific technological development, provide a system that minimizes the side effects that come from rapid changes, implement alternative policies to the discourses on growth, and a public demand for high-quality social welfare.
Also, 34.9% of the public participants wished to avoid the stable growth society in the future. The stable growth society is characterized by an expansion in the economic and social gap between the urban and rural areas, increasing social problems due to intensified competition, greater global warming issues, more social and cultural conflict from increasing numbers of foreigners in Korea.