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Stephen Sherwood

on 6 November 2017

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Transcript of 20171106_Sherwood_RSO34806_Lecture_3

1. Performance
3. Social perspective
2. Competing perspectives
4. Present thinking
Stephen Sherwood, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation

Agricultural modernization of potato in Ecuador
"More than
just a liquid
in a bottle."
Power and politics: how people organize into social networks that collude and collide around competing agenda.
Human-environmental interactions: the social and natural interact; similarities and differences between human/abstract behaviour and natural/ecological organization (Beck).
(Paredes, 2010)
Production of decline
(Sherwood, 2009)
How does poisoning
happen in practice?
Local views
Expert views
Farmer from San Francisco de La Libertad:
"I don't know if you believe in God, but I believe in pesticides."
Pesticide salesman from San Gabriel:
"I know the farmer only needs 400 ml to cover his field, but if I sell him a litre that shouldn't burn his field, and I will have nailed another litre of product. Everyone wins -- he cures his problem and I sell my litres."
"With backpack sprayers and fumigators in poor condition, without any protection or consideration for the harm to their health or the environment caused by non-adequate application methods, the farmers go out every morning to their jobs, without worry about the problems they'r causing."
1) The risks associated with pesticides are essentially invisible and subject to interpretation. As a result, it is not rationality but the successful entrepreneurship of actors that informs public perception and determines policy outcomes.
2) The risks associated with modern agriculture cross conceptual boundaries. Expert-oriented institutions are incapable of mediation, and in fact, play a central role in creating and representing the myths and conceptual blindfolds that prevent people from seeing alternatives.
3)The “bads” of industrial-era agriculture generate ecological and social backlash. The effect goes beyond a mere reorganization of practices to more fundamental system decline.
4) Modernisation psychologically and socially distances people from localities, leading to diverse forms of fragmentation. In Carchi, it appears that people have lost their ability to regulate change.
Temporality and transition: endless fluxes of convergence, divergence, continuity and departure present in change over time.
3.It is not the authoritative intervention of western scientific knowledge that changes the agrarian landscape, but the reconfiguration of knowledge that occurs at the interface with farming practice.
1. In Carchi, heterogeneity is the expression of a dynamic farming sector within which people exercise agency by articulating and activating their different perceptions of development and “good farming”, even under the most restrictive conditions.
2. Policy unfolds as an ambiguous and fragmented process that creates or restricts new spaces for the interface of knowledge. As a result, different bricolages of farming practice arise that go beyond the dualism of the “modern” and the “traditional”. It is possible to find different approximations to markets and technology, as well as important countertendencies to modernization that offer solutions to sustainability.
4.The study of heterogeneity is central to strengthening democracy through legitimizing views that do not correspond to official policy. It involves the study of diverse configurations of knowledge and history that change meanings of the past, present and future.
Carchi has a high incidence of pesticide poisonings (171/100,000/year) and mortality (21/100,000/year)
67% of the high risk population is measurably affected
Neurobehavioral scores are nearly one standard deviation below those of the population not directly exposed to pesticides
Affected farmers are statistically less productive than non-affected farmers
Overcoming dichotomies:
theory vs. practice
local/lay vs. external/expert knowledge
rational vs. normative action
individual vs. social analysis
physical/"real" vs. social/virtual spaces
Social agency: not a self-centered agency , but an "embodied" form of agency that trascends traditional boundaries between individual and social (Schatzki).
RSO34806 Monday, 6 November
Guiding questions:
Lecture 1: Agricultural modernization
Monday, 6 November, 1330-1515

Lecture 2: Self-organization and the bypass
Tuesday, 7 November, 1330-1515
I present three phases of socio-technical development in Ecuador: fix, fit, and flow. How is each stage similar or different? Provide an example of each for illustration.
What is meant by the argument that practice represents a policy resource for addressing pressing agriculture/food concerns?
How is the agroecology and responsible consumption in Ecuador a form of institutional by-pass to the state?

According to the lecture, what are the four underlying social features of agricultural modernization? Draw on the experience of potato farming in Carchi to illustrate each feature.
As per my research, I argue that socio-environmental decline tied to agriculture/food is not due to an oversight/neglect of science or government, but rather it has become the expected product/legacy of agricultural modernization. As such, to what degree should we look to science or the state for exit strategies?
Based on the experience in Carchi, how can agricultural modernization be explained as a form of “organized irresponsibility”? If this is so, then what needs to happen for more sustainable agriculture and food?
Milk: Nature's Perfect Food
E. Melanie Dupuis
(touch the field to initiate the video)
(Click on the field to initiate the video)
Full transcript