9780300078152

Seeing Like a State

How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

James C. Scott


Format:
ISBN: 9780300078152
Published: March 1999

Price: $39.99

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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.

Details
  • Format:
  • ISBN: 9780300078152
  • Published: March 1999
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Number of pages: 464
  • Width (mm): 156
  • Height (mm): 235
  • Depth (mm): Not specified
  • Weight (g): 635

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