, Volume 4, Issue 2-3, pp 53-64

Science for whom? Agricultural development and the theory of induced innovation

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Abstract

Marxist social scientists have argued that the relationship between social and technical change is one of mutual interaction; innovation in the modes of production affects social organization, and social organization, in turn, has an impact on the development of novel modes of production. This consideration is of fundamental importance for the construction of any economic development policy. However, analyses of this critical relationship have been elaborated within a conceptual framework which most social scientists and policy makers who work within the framework of neoclassical economic thought find difficult to understand. When marxists argue that technical innovations are the product of a class conflict, non-marxist social scientists are left wondering about what the exact meaning of such a statement. Because marxists have been unable to communicate their message, their important insights into the relation between social and technical change have not been incorporated in contemporary development policy; this situation has often resulted in great social costs. In the past fifteen years, however, Yujiro Hayami and Vernon Ruttan have attempted to analyze the critical interaction of social and technical change using neo-classical economic concepts. I argue that their approach can be utilized to express marxist insights in a language accessible to non-marxist social scientists. The careful and critical adoption of this approach could provide the grounds for a more fruitful dialogue about the interaction of social and technical change, and aid the construction of a new development policy.

Paolo Palladino is a graduate student in the History of Science and Technology Program, at the University of Minnesota. His dissertation is concerned with the conceptual development of Integrated Pest Management during the 1960s and early 1970s, and its relations to contemporary developments in ecology. He is studying these relations within the context of the "environmental crisis", which, he argues, has had a profound impact on the intellectual, social and institutional interactions between economic entomologists and ecologists. He thereby hopes to shed some light on the interactions between basic and applied science, and on the effect of social and institutional factors on these interactions.