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Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (Yale Agrarian Studies)

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Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (Yale Agrarian Studies) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Compulsory ujamaa villages in Tanzania, collectivization in Russia, Le Corbusier's urban planning theory realized in Brasilia, the Great Leap Forward in China, agricultural "modernization" in the Tropics — the twentieth century has been racked by grand utopian schemes that have inadvertently brought death and disruption to millions. Why do well-intentioned plans for improving the human condition go tragically awry?

In this wide-ranging and original book, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. Centrally managed social plans misfire, Scott argues, when they impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that are not — and cannot — be fully understood. Further, the success of designs for social organization depends upon the recognition that local, practical knowledge is as important as formal, epistemic knowledge. The author builds a persuasive case against "development theory" and imperialistic state planning that disregards the values, desires, and objections of its subjects. He identifies and discusses four conditions common to all planning disasters: administrative ordering of nature and society by the state; a "high-modernist ideology" that places confidence in the ability of science to improve every aspect of human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large-scale interventions; and a prostrate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.

"A broad-ranging, theoretically important, and empirically grounded treatment of the modern state and its propensity to simplify and make legible a society which by nature is complex and opaque. For anyone interested inlearning about this fundamental tension of modernity and about the destruction wrought in the twentieth century as a consequence of the dominant development ideology of the simplifying state, this is a must-read". — Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of Hitler's Willing Executioners

Synopsis:

An analysis of diverse failures in high-modernist, authoritarian state planning. It covers projects such as collectivization in Russia and the building of Brasilia, arguing that any centrally-managed social plan must recognize the importance of local customs and practical knowledge.

Synopsis:

Why do well-intentioned plans for improving the human condition go tragically awry? In a wide-ranging and original study, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. He argues that centrally managed social plans derail when schematic visions are imposed on long-established structures without taking into account preexisting interdependencies.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 359-434) and index.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300078152
Author:
Scott, James C.
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Location:
New Haven :
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Sociology - Social Theory
Subject:
Economic Development
Subject:
State, the
Subject:
Authoritarianism
Subject:
Central planning.
Subject:
Social engineering.
Subject:
Development - Economic Development
Subject:
General Political Science
Subject:
Sociology - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
The Institution for Social and Policy St
Series Volume:
no. 8
Publication Date:
19990231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
36 b/w illus.
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1.4 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Religion » Christianity » Devotionals

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Product details 464 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300078152 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , An analysis of diverse failures in high-modernist, authoritarian state planning. It covers projects such as collectivization in Russia and the building of Brasilia, arguing that any centrally-managed social plan must recognize the importance of local customs and practical knowledge.
"Synopsis" by , Why do well-intentioned plans for improving the human condition go tragically awry? In a wide-ranging and original study, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. He argues that centrally managed social plans derail when schematic visions are imposed on long-established structures without taking into account preexisting interdependencies.
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