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Social Carriers of Techniques for Development


  • Charles Edquist

    (Department of Peace and Conflict Research, and Research Policy Institute, University of Lund, Sweden)

  • Olle Edqvist

    (Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC), Stockholm, Sweden)


The main objective of this article is to contribute to a better understanding of the relationships between social change and technical change in developing countries. However, we believe that our approach and our concepts — with relevant modifications — are applicable to the industrialized countries as well.Initially we distinguish between the concepts of technique and technology and discuss certain characteristic properties of techniques and their consequences for society. Thereafter we point to the fact that the structure of the socio-economic and political system conditions the choice of technique. Thus, this choice is not mainly a matter of conscious policy-making by certain decisionmakers (actors). However, social entities and institutions actually do make decisions to implement some techniques rather than others, and they do have some freedom of action. Therefore, if the relation between social and technical change is to be properly understood, we claim that an actor-oriented perspective is necessary as a supplement to the structural perspective.Such an actor-oriented perspective is introduced through the presentation of the concept social carriers of techniques. A social carrier of a technique is a social entity which chooses and implements a tehnique: it 'carries' it into the society. Such a carrier may be a company, an agricultural cooperative, or an individual peasant. Every technique must have an actual social carrier in order to be chosen and implemented.Finally we scrutinize the notion of 'appropriate technology', stressing the fact that the main — and disregarded — problem with implementation of these 'appropriate techniques' is that they have no social carriers. Even if they had, they would not in themselves solve the problem of widespread unemployment in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Edquist & Olle Edqvist, 1979. "Social Carriers of Techniques for Development," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 16(4), pages 313-331, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:16:y:1979:i:4:p:313-331

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