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Seeing like a state : how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed

Author: James C Scott
Publisher: New Haven, USA : Yale University Press, 2020(1998)
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
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 20th 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?
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: James C Scott
ISBN: 9780300246759 0300246757 9780300078152 0300078153 0300070160 9780300070163
OCLC Number: 1178732763
Accession No: (DK-820120)000191209
Description: 445 s.

Abstract:

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 20th 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 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 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 human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large-scale interventions; and a prostate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.

The 20th century features many examples of 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? This book analyzes cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields.

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"A magisterial critique of top-down social planning that has been cited, and debated, by the free-market libertarians of the Cato Institute (which recently dedicated an issue of its online journal to Read more...

 
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Scott<\/span>\n\u00A0\u00A0\u00A0\nschema:datePublished<\/a> \"2020(1998)<\/span>\" ;\u00A0\u00A0\u00A0\nschema:datePublished<\/a> \"2020<\/span>\" ;\u00A0\u00A0\u00A0\nschema:description<\/a> \"The 20th century features many examples of 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? This book analyzes cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields.<\/span>\" ;\u00A0\u00A0\u00A0\nschema:description<\/a> \"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 20th century has been racked by grand utopian schemes that have inadvertently brought death and disruption to millions. 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