A new approach for comparing and categorizing farmers’ systems of practice based on cognitive mapping and graph theory indicators

in studies of the diversity of systems of practice, using a combination of statistical methods and semi-qualitative modelling can take account of the inherent complexity of the systems of practices.

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Cognitive maps to understand agricultural practices

We analysed the practices and decision-making processes linked to grassland management in a Belgian grassland-based livestock farming system. Our work confirmed that a social cognitive map could be drawn up for multiple loca tions. The results showed how this inductive cognitive mapping approach overcame two limitations frequently highlighted in previous studies: the diverse interpretations of variables and relationships; and the difficulty in revealing the rationale in cognitive maps.

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How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations

Gaëtan Vanloqueren∗, Philippe V. Baret

Research Policy 38 (2009) 971–983

Vanloqueren, Baret – How Agricultural Research (full text in pdf)

Agricultural science and technology (S&T) is under great scrutiny. Reorientation towards more holistic approaches, including agroecology, has recently been backed by a global international assessment of agriculture S&T for development (IAASTD). Understanding the past and current trends of agricultural S&T is crucial if such recommendations are to be implemented. This paper shows how the concepts of technological paradigms and trajectories can help analyse the agricultural S&T landscape and dynamics.

Genetic engineering and agroecology can be usefully analysed as two different technological paradigms, even though they have not been equally successful in influencing agricultural research. We used a Systems of Innovation (SI) approach to identify the determinants of innovation (the factors that influence research choices) within agricultural research systems. The influence of each determinant is systematically described (e.g. funding priorities, scientists’ cognitive and cultural routines etc.). As a result of their interactions, these determinants construct a technological regime and a lock-in situation that hinders the development of agroecological engineering. Issues linked to breaking out of this lock-in situation are

finally discussed.