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Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to…
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Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition… (vuoden 1999 painos)

– tekijä: James Scott

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1,0431714,659 (4.2)3
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 twentieth 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 and original 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 persuasive 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 science to improve every aspect of human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large- scale interventions; and a prostrate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:col_pogo
Teoksen nimi:Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (The Institution for Social and Pol
Kirjailijat:James Scott
Info:Yale University Press (1999), Paperback
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):****1/2
Avainsanoja:philosophy, economics, anthropology

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Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (tekijä: James C. Scott)

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englanti (16)  espanja (1)  Kaikki kielet (17)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 17) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Essentially, the whole book is about how States must make dramatic simplifying assumptions for "legibility" in order to act, but when this is done, there are negative consequences -- the interventions of the state are imprecise, but worse, the world often changes to reflect the State's own model. When combined with a highly interventionist state ("High Modernism"), this is amplified terribly, and you end up with stuff like the Stalinist collective farms (and holodomor), mass pesticide dependent agriculture in the west, and artificial cities like Brasilia where people don't want to live.

About 50-75% of this book was one of the best books I've ever read; the remainder was incredibly boring and very skippable. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
I learned a lot and gained a new perspective on the state-individual relationship. This in itself is enough to make me appreciate the book. It's written clearly and concisely, sometimes with too many caveats as if the author was afraid people might somehow take him the wrong way. Hard do say why, this is all very tame stuff by today standards but I barely remember what it was like in the 90s. Pity the book doesn't go anywhere but the journey was worth it. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Interesting in parts, but eventually becomes rather tediously repetitive.

The same general points (mostly regarding the dangers of arrogant, top-down, hyper-rationalist, narrowly-focused schemes to improve the efficiency of complex, incompletely understood social/economic/agricultural systems) are hammered home again and again, albeit couched in new examples.

Scott's frequent acknowledgment of nuance is quite refreshing in such a polemic work, though it's not always clear that the concessions he makes along the way actually influence his conclusions (explicit and implicit) as much as they ought to.

I think I would have got just as much out of an abridged version, created by excising a few of the mid-late chapters and asking an editor to aggressively prune what remained. ( )
  matt_ar | Dec 6, 2019 |
I had to put this book on hold for the forseeable future (i.e., probably abandon it), as it just wasn't doing it for me. The previous two books outside of my comfort zone that I read ([b:The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy|22245334|The Utopia of Rules On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy|David Graeber|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1417415465s/22245334.jpg|41620170], [b:Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space|20758195|Extrastatecraft The Power of Infrastructure Space|Keller Easterling|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1411336999s/20758195.jpg|40090635]) were all rather dense, but this one... Well, let's say that I'm willing to put up with dense writing in return for really interesting ideas, but this book was too meandering for my tastes. I found myself dreading the idea of picking the book back up in the evening, and if this still occurs halfway through the book, that's a sure sign that I should just give up on it. ( )
  malexmave | Oct 3, 2019 |
I read this because it was heavily cited in a few different blog posts/essays that I found thought-provoking. This took me a really long time to get through, but has similarly been really thought-provoking, and has influenced how I think about a lot of different things.

In a very small nutshell (maybe a pistachio?): abstraction can be very useful but it's very easy to overlook the value of all the concrete details along the way; blind faith in it combined with a way to impose the abstraction on others can be pretty dangerous.

For what it's worth, I think you can basically read the introduction and then read Part IV: The Missing Link. At the beginning of that part he summarizes the salient points of Parts II and III. If you find any of those stories particularly interesting, there's nothing stopping you from going back and actually reading them. I found them enjoyable reading but non-essential to the central point of the book.

Anyways, while reading the book I thought about how it applied to: mismanagement at my workplace; the perils of 'data-driven decision-making'; the practice of software engineering; the relationship between playing music and studying music theory; my relationship to climate change. If you'd like to think about any of those things I highly recommend this book! ( )
1 ääni haagen_daz | Jun 6, 2019 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (5)

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 twentieth 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 and original 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 persuasive 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 science to improve every aspect of human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large- scale interventions; and a prostrate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.

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