Hope is a powerful yet complex phenomenon. Can hope be harnessed for positive social change? What does it mean for a society to "hope well?" How do institutions abuse individual hope?
This issue of The Annals delves into the complicated notions of hope and how it can be encouraged and nurtured on several levels. The contributors to this issue explore institutions of hope in operation and explain how those institutions can function effectively.
Divided into two parts, the first set of articles define institutions of hope as "sets of rules, norms, and practices that ensure that we have some room not only to dream of the extraordinary, but also to do the extraordinary."
Using a combination of theory and practice, the contributors address several different models in the construct of institutions of hope. With a series of case studies, Part I demonstrates institutions of hope at work and shows not only how collective hope may be used constructively but also how it may be abused by those in power.
Part II of this issue identifies ways that institutionalizing hope can address the individual needs on a psychological level. The authors in this second set of papers ask questions such as "What does it mean for an individual to hope well?" and "How and why is hope such a fundamental component of being human?"
Taken together, these two general approaches to hope - on both an individual and a collective level - give readers insight into the challenges of designing institutions that allow collective hopes to be practiced. Calling for an agenda that encourages both theory and practice, the contributors to this special issue set a solid foundation for future research into ways that will narrow the gap between the psychological needs of the individual and the limitations of social institutions.