Causal layered analysis

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Causal layered analysis (CLA) is a technique used in strategic planning, futures studies and foresight to more effectively shape the future.[1][2] The technique was pioneered by Sohail Inayatullah, a Pakistani-Australian futures studies researcher.[3]


Causal layered analysis works by identifying many different levels, and attempting to make synchronized changes at all levels to create a coherent new future. Inayatullah's original paper[3] as well as his TEDx talk[4] identify four levels:

  1. The litany: This includes quantitative trends, often exaggerated and used for political purposes. The result could be a feeling of apathy, helplessness, or projected action. Inayatullah calls this "the conventional level of futures research which can readily create a politics of fear."[3]
  2. Social causes, including economic, cultural, political, and historical factors.
  3. Structure and the discourse that legitimizes and supports the structure.
  4. Metaphor and myth

History of research[edit]

CLA was first introduced explicitly as a futures research technique by Sohail Inayatullah in a 1998 article for Futures that would come to be widely cited.[3] Later, Inayatullah would edit the CLA Reader, that featured chapters from a number of futurists and practitioners describing their experience with CLA.[5][6]

Inayatullah's work on CLA was examined in a book by Jose W. Ramos in 2003.[7]

A 2008 article by Chris Riedy examined the similarities, differences, and possible combinations of CLA and Ken Wilber's integral theory.[8]

A 2010 article by Gary P. Hampson explored the relationship between integral futures and CLA further, and also considered Richard Slaughter's critique of CLA.[9]

Sohail Inayatullah and Ivana Milojevic have published an update in 2015.[10] With various authors, they investigate topics such as:

  • The Global Financial Crisis
  • Terrorism futures
  • Global governance
  • Ageing and the changing workforce
  • Educational and university futures
  • Climate change
  • Water futures in the Muslim world
  • The alternative futures of China
  • Agricultural policy in Australia
  • The new national narrative in Singapore

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inayatullah, Sohail (January–February 2014). "Causal Layered Analysis Defined". The Futurist. World Future Society. 48 (1). Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  2. ^ "Causal Layered Analysis". Scenarios for Sustainability Recipes. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Inayatullah, Sohail (October 1998). "Causal layered analysis: Poststructuralism as method" (PDF). Futures. 30 (8): 815–829. doi:10.1016/S0016-3287(98)00086-X. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Inayatullah, Sohail (May 12, 2013). "Causal Layered Analysis: Sohail Inayatullah at TEDxNoosa". YouTube. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  5. ^ "The Causal Layered Analysis Reader". Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  6. ^ "The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) Reader: Theory and Case Studies of an Integrative and Transformative Methodology" (PDF). Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  7. ^ Ramos, Jose W. (2003). "From critique to cultural recovery: critical futures studies and casual layered analysis". Australian Foresight Institute. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  8. ^ Riedy, Chris (March 2008). "An Integral extension of causal layered analysis" (PDF). Futures. Elsevier. 40 (2): 150–159. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2007.11.009. hdl:10453/9782.
  9. ^ Hampson, Gary P. (March 2010). "Futures of integral futures: An analysis of Richard Slaughter's analysis of Causal Layered Analysis" (PDF). Futures. 42 (2): 134–148. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2009.09.006. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  10. ^ "CLA 2.0 Transformative Research in Theory and Practice". 2015.