The economies of small: appropriate technology in a changing world

Kaplinsky, Raphael (1990). The economies of small: appropriate technology in a changing world. London, UK: Intermediate Technology Press.



The book is largely concerned with the inter-relationship between patterns of human living and technological choice, that is, with the appropriateness of technology. The major focus of attention is the role which technology plays in meeting the needs of the poorer segments of the global population living in developing countries. Chapters not only consider the analytical issues raised by Eckaus and Emmanuel, critics of appropriate technology, but also provide case studies to rebut their assertions. Chapter 2 reviews a number of general issues relevant to appropriate technology (AT). It begins by addressing the historical context in which concern with the nature of technology became prominent. This makes it possible to contextualize the origins of the AT movement and to identify the similarities and dissimilarities between groups working in the developing and in the industrially advanced countries. Major policy issues relevant in enhancing the role of AT are identified. Chapter 2 addresses the meaning of 'appropriate technology', identifying its relativity and distinguishing between the major characteristics of appropriateness. Detailed case studies follow in chapters 3-6. They deal with: (3) the political economy of diffusion: the bread industry in Kenya; (4) the institutional framework of AT development and diffusion: brick manufacture in three African countries; (5) developing an appropriate policy environment: small-scale sugar production (India, Kenya); and (6) the economics of small: AT in the industrially advanced countries. Each of the case studies illuminates the specificity of problems involved, since AT is inherently relative. The studies illustrate the complexities of policy choice, and the conclusions point the way to interventions by an AT-enabling state as well as by non-governmental organizations at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels. Chapter 7 considers the problem of policy formulation, especially in relation to the conflict between market forces and state intervention in the diffusion of AT. The characteristics of an AT-enabling state are explored in chapter 8 which focuses on the policy implications of earlier chapters. It also draws out the implications for the international AT agencies.

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