Agriculture and Behavioral Science: Emerging Orientations

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Science  19 Aug 1977:
Vol. 197, Issue 4305, pp. 733-737
DOI: 10.1126/science.197.4305.733


New research orientations are emerging in behavioral science approaches to agricultural development. These new orientations are the product of both experience gained during the era that followed the Green Revolution and a response to changing goals in agricultural development that now place a greater emphasis on considerations of participation and equity. They also reflect a more general concern with the relation of technology and society growing out of efforts to understand energy and environmental problems. These orientations are characterized by a shift away from a conceptual perspective emphasizing communication to one in which technology and social organization are deemed essential in understanding and promoting agricultural development.

This changing conceptual perspective is being manifested in the research process from which technology develops. Use of ecological systems approaches to the study of farming systems is increasing. The importance of understanding traditional agriculture is becoming evident and technology development methodologies are beginning to simulate farm conditions at the research center and to conduct experimental research on the farm. The appreciation of technology as a variable is leading to the development of alternative technologies adapted to different socionatural situations. As these emerging orientations become elaborated, they enhance the contributions which behavioral scientists can make to agricultural development.

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