Rhythms of the herd: Long term dynamics in seed choice by Indian farmers

Glenn Davis Stone,  Andrew Flachs,

Scholars in many disciplines have approached the question of how humans combine environmental learning (or empirical assessments) and social learning (or emulation) in choosing technologies. As both a consumer item and the subject of local indigenous knowledge, commercial crop seeds provide a valuable window into these processes. Previous research on seed choices by cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, uncovered short-term seed fads, or herding, indicating agricultural deskilling in which environmental

learning had broken down. Unknown was if the faddism (and the underlying deskilling) would continue or even be exacerbated by the spread of genetically modified seeds. Data covering 11 years of seed choices in the same sample villages are now available; we
combine analysis of this unusual data set with ethnographic observation. We find that herding has continued and intensified. We also find an unexpected emergent pattern of cyclical fads; these resemble classic models of successive innovation adoption where
periodicity is introduced from outside the system, but we argue that it periodicity is actually generated by an internal dynamic.

http://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/research/stone/Rhythms_of_the_Herd.pdf

Leave a Reply