From technology transfer to adaptive management: Knowledge networks for technological change in agriculture


J.N. Lamb; K.M. Moore

Type of Document:
Conference Proceeding or Document


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In studying agricultural development, we are interested in the characteristics of local contexts which enable or prevent technological change. Network theory and literature from social construction of technology provide numerous methods to make these complex processes of change more transparent. In this paper, we explore how these different approaches can inform conceptualizations of technological change in agriculture through 1) a brief synthesis of the network and social construction of technology literature; 2) a review of technological change in agricultural experiences; and 3) the proposal of a refined research methodology. Upon examining the literature, the distinction between structural and semiotic networks and the concept of technological frame are particularly valuable. Conceptualizing technological change through a social construction of technology approach, we are interested in the fundamental question of how and why a particular technological frame becomes dominant. We argue that this process unfolds through local network spaces and dynamics. In an attempt to illustrate the connection between network processes and technological frame adoption; we reinterpret two examples of technological change in agriculture. These include technology transfer in the Green Revolution and the emergence of adaptive management for the development of Conservation Agriculture production systems in the United States and Brazil. We find that the reformulation and reorganization of agricultural production networks are captured in Callon’s moments of translation, where individuals take on new and even competing identities. Through deconstructing this process, we hope to provide the theoretical foundation for a more comprehensive research model to examine technological change in agriculture.

Additional Bibliographic Information

Paper presented at the Rural Sociology Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, 12-15 August 2010

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