Concepts of futures, foresight, visioning and the quest for longer-term perspectives have burgeoned in the theory and practice of governance at supranational, national and local levels over the last decade or so. To a large extent this ‘Futures Turn’ has been driven by the uncertainties and complexities of the current era and attempts to equip decisionmakers with the tools required to anticipate social, economic and environmental change. As such, the discourses and strategies of future thinking are often bound up with attempts to rethink traditional policy approaches – with thinking ‘out of the box’, or promoting integrated ‘joined up’ thinking – often linked to some form of community empowerment. In this paper we reflect on some of the implications of the ‘Futures Turn’ in western governance, particularly in terms of drawing attention to the political/ideological work performed by notions of futures thinking in the current era. The paper begins by setting out a conceptual framework for situating different approaches to futures work in governance, primarily by making a distinction between a shallow ‘futures of reaction’ and a deeper, more visionary ‘futures of transformation’. In doing so, we go back to first principles by drawing on Futures Studies, a body of work that has a long history both in terms of conceptual underpinning and application in decision-making in a variety of sectors. Focusing on the UK we then demonstrate how notions of transformation and reaction, and related concepts such as deep and shallow futureswork, can be applied to the current futures concern in urban policy.