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Transition ScenariosChina and the United States in the Twenty-First Century$
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David P. Rapkin and William R. Thompson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226040332

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226040509.001.0001

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Scenario Construction

Scenario Construction

(p.15) Chapter Two Scenario Construction
Transition Scenarios

David P. Rapkin

William R. Thompson

University of Chicago Press

Employing forward reasoning, scenarios are stories that bring together possible causation with known trends to produce outcomes at some future date. An explicit emphasis on theoretically-identified drivers is central to using scenarios for social science purposes. Our scenarios are framed by the interactions between factors inducing and constraining conflict over systemic leadership. The main protagonists in transitions compete to supplant a declining system leader. The main constraints are Kantian dynamics (democratic peace, economic interdependence, and international organizations) and nuclear deterrence. Different combinations of such factors, along with a mix of predetermined elements (known developments), critical uncertainties (unknown developments), early indicators (observable attributes that tell us where we are in a plot line), and wild cards (low probability, high impact events) are integrated to tell stories about varying outcomes in the future.

Keywords:   scenarios, drivers, systemic leadership, decline, Kantian dynamics, democratic peace, economic interdependence, international organizations, nuclear deterrence, predetermined elements

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