Technoscience in Agriculture: Reflections on the Contributions of the MSU School of Sociology of Food and Agriculture
This paper argues that one of the most important contributions of the MSU School of Agrifood Governance and Technoscience (MSU-SAGT) was its focus on previously less explored and analyzed roles of technoscience in agriculture.The notion of technoscience was derived from the broader field of Science and Technology Studies, especially from Actor Network Theory.Studies conducted under Lawrence Busch’s direction conceptualized this notion to indicate networks/collectives of human and nonhuman actors implicated in production, distribution and consumption of food. While these studies analyzed the role of technoscience in transforming agriculture, they also examined ethical issues (e.g.,social justice and democracy)that arise from the simultaneous restructuring of social relations and practices that redistribute power and profit through various commodity chains.To highlight the contributions of MSU-SAGT to the study of technoscience in agriculture, this paper will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of this line of scholarship by comparing how the notions of networks, actors, and symmetry are used in Commodity Systems Analyses and Actor Network Theory. In our discussion, we will draw empirical examples from our work on rapeseed conducted in the 1990s. We emphasize that the application of the technoscience paradigm with innovative methodological approaches developed at MSU enabled us to problematize and theorize scientific practices in agriculture as ‘politics by other means’. This explicitly raised issues of social justice and democracy as implicated in agrifood practices. This paper will conclude by emphasizing that the MSU-SAGT has stressed the importance of those temporal and spatial dimensions of technoscience politics that simultaneously transform global and local dynamics of agrifood production.
Tanaka, Keiko, and Arunsa Juska. 2010. "Technoscience in Agriculture: Reflections on the Contributions of the MSU School of Sociology of Food and Agriculture." Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 25(3): Article 3. Available at: https://egrove.olemiss.edu/jrss/vol25/iss3/3