This paper is a historical critique of farming systems research (FSR). It assesses the claim by FSR advocates that this popular research strategy is a new approach to the development of agricultural technologies for the so-called Third World. The author argues that FSR belongs to a series of rural/agricultural development programs (i.e., community development projects, green revolution, and integrated rural development) that began in the immediate post-WWII period. In this historical context, FSR is a logical response by aid agencies to deleterious socio-political consequences associated with its predecessor programs. The paper then examines the FSR literature to determine what can be expected from this "new" strategy. Based on tensions within this body of literature, a connection is established between these tensions and the larger historical context mentioned above. The paper concludes with a statement on this strategy's attempt to have a bottom-up, participatory orientation to technologically-based agricultural development. In sum, FSR amounts to a change in the "top's" form to reach the "bottom." Its content contributes to a reproduction of development agendas and social processes set in motion over three decades ago.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.