Science and Technology in World Agriculture: The World Development Report as an Example of “Achievement Narratives”
Pasquale Lucio Scandizzo
Narratives simplify conceptual thinking about complex phenomena by providing interpretations and backgrounds based on standard linguistic schemes. As such, they offer an apt form for suggestive evocation of the many controversies on the impact of technology and science on world agriculture. Beliefs, stylized evidence and arguments on this subject tend to fall into contrasting narratives given the complexity of the issues involved, and, at the same time, the underlying contradictions that this complexity entails. This paper contends that narratives can be revealing as clusters of opposed beliefs, and as parts of contrasting discourses on the future of agriculture. In this respect, the World Development Report represents an excellent example of the interpretation of technological progress in agriculture as a series of narratives focusing on the optimistic but prudent sequence of rational pursuit of valuable objectives, inevitable obstacles and ultimate achievements.
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