Rethinking Technological Change in Smallholder Agriculture
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The concept of technology adoption (along with its companions, diffusion and scaling) is commonly used to design development interventions, to frame impact evaluations and to inform decision-making about new investments in development-oriented agricultural research. However, adoption simplifies and mischaracterises what happens during processes of technological change. In all but the very simplest cases, it is likely to be inadequate to capture the complex reconfiguration of social and technical components of a technological practice or system. We review the insights of a large and expanding literature, from various disciplines, which has deepened understanding of technological change as an intricate and complex sociotechnical reconfiguration, situated in time and space. We explain the problems arising from the inappropriate use of adoption as a framing concept and propose an alternative conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating technological change. The new approach breaks down technology change programmes into four aspects: propositions, encounters, dispositions and responses. We begin to sketch out how this new framework could be operationalised.