Monday, April 20, 2009

Gidden's on expert knowledge

Gidden's theory outlines how modernity sets us up for a perpetual march towards progress. One of the reasons that it is "perpetual" or unending is because modernity has allowed us to stretch time and distance in new, almost limitless ways. This time and space distanciation has resulted in the break up of tight-knit primary groups, a changing nature of friendship/relationships, and the division of spaces into nation-states or organizational territories among other effects...

Disembedding mechanisms are central to this process of time-space distanciation. I am particularly interested in the notion of expert systems and believe that it is relevant to the transformation of America's land grant colleges. In 1862, Morill Land Grant Act was signed. The intention of the policy was to encourage (through incentives) the collaboration of U.S. faculty with local farmers to improve sound economic practices and viability for small farming communities, and thus, to have these small communities contribute to the larger national economy. Wendell Berry writes about how the land grant colleges have evolved to the point that local knowledge and local savvy is no longer appreciated or even sought. Many Land grant colleges do not work in an egalitarian partnership with their local communities, and they often introduce methods/machinery/practices that are foreign to or even intimidating to small farmers and ranchers. If we use Gidden's framework, we can begin to see how the "modern" university links together the 4 institutions of globalization. Do you find this situation problematic or is this simply progress - with both its manifest and latent functions revealed?

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