(Where I try to have fun while being useful, and
that you can, too)
"If our minds were simple enough for us to understand them, we
be too stupid to do so"
(Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World)
[last update: October, 2010]
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Policy & Trade Analysis etc. (Old CAP, new
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- <>In early 2006, the UK House of Commons Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs Committe Inquired into the "Government's Vision
for the Common Agricultural Policy" (by HM Treasury and
DEFRA). I submitted a pair of
memoranda to this Committee, criticising this vision and offering
an alternative. The Committee's
report was published on 23 May, 2007, HC 546, 4th Report,
and subsequently also produced a further
report in November, 2007 responding to the Government's reply to
- In December, 2005, the European Summit finally agreed its budget
for 2007 - 2013, in spite of considerable differences between
(especially) France and the UK about the CAP and about the UK Budget
Rebate (which Mrs Thatcher beat out of the rest of the EU in recompense
for the large net contributions which the UK otherwise makes to the
EU). One promise made in this agreement is for the European Commission "to
undertake a full, wide ranging review covering all
aspects of EU spending, including CAP, and of the resources,
including the rebate, to report in 2008/9”. My response to this
5 (1), Spring, 2006.
- Policy Dependencies:
a paper to the 2003 Conference of International Agricultural
Economists, Durban, SA., on the problems of policy reform, subsequently
published in Agricultural Economics,
31, 2004, 265 - 275
- Multi-functionality -
what might it mean and how do we analyse and manage it? Published in The World Economy,
May, 2003, 705 - 725.
- Thoughts on CAP Reform, 2010.
Modelling and Analysing Land
interactions (CAREful or what?)
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- Continuing cooperation and participation with, inter alia,
Research centres and Institutes: the Institute for Research on the
Environment and Sustainability (IRES) and the
Centre for Rural Economy (CRE).
Key interests here are in spatial diversity and
diversity of human behaviour patterns and the incorporation of such
within manageable and tractable simulation systems. Diversity is seen
as a fundamental characteristic of natural and human systems, and an
prerequisite for evolutionary adaptation. Economic and political
then provide the criteria against which such adaptations are judged to
be fit for purpose. This interest leads to the final (and possibly most
important, certainly obsessional) research theme.
- SCoPE: Sustainable Cultivation of
Productive Environments - An ESRC RELU Phase IV project (18
months, from October, 2010) with Steve Rushton (NIReS) and others - to
develop an interactive 'storyboard' for the communication and
negotiation of scenarios for sustainable development (in the first
instance, for English Uplands).
Conceptual Development of
Science and Methods:
Reconciliation of Academic Rigour and Policy
These ideas are currently being developed in working papers and
associated teaching/learning materials, some of which are located on my
site (under the general heading of "The Nature of Enquiry &
in the Social Sciences). Incidentally, if you think I am getting this
substantially wrong, please
me know. Presently, the key themes are as follows:
The "world common model" of liberal economies coupled with universal
suffrage and democracy suffers a paradox. Economic logic and market
typically also associated with scientifically-verified truths, lead to
certain policies and policy recommendations which are frequently judged
unacceptable by the political machinery of democratic control. Examples
include farm policy reform, food health and safety regulation, trade
environmental protection, rural development, climate change
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Further, more and more disparate professions and disciplines are
involved in these debates and analyses. Those responsible for making
deciding policy frequently consider that conventional academic and
bases for analysis of and recommendation on major policy issues facing
the agri-food-environmental complex, both nationally and
are inadequate or incomplete. Our students and social science
are not convinced of the supremacy and natural authority of the
method or neoclassical logic. Post-modernism is rife, whatever else it
is. At root, the post-modern notion that all reality is a conceptual
and thus subject to dispute, is a scientific notion. We may be wrong.
so, what might a more plausible and consistent story look like?
I am still trying to understand these issues, and have only
managed limited progress so far. You can find some of my most recent
"How does Economics fit the Social World"
- Journal of Agricultural Economics,
55, 2, July, 2004, 313 - 337,
"A Conjecture on the Nature of Social Systems" - 21st Century Society (Journal
of the Academy of Social Sciences), 3, 1 (February), 2008, 87 - 108.
The Prosepct/ESRC New Century Essay
In 1999, Prospect Magazine, in conjunction with the Economic and
Science Research Council of the UK, issued a Challenge to Social
to write an essay on one of five themes or questions deemed by the
of this challenge to encapsulate "the biggest issues of our times".
Magazine bills itself as the leading British political and intellectual
monthly magazine. So it should know, especially with the help of the
what these issues are. The five questions they set are as follows:
The brief for this essay series is that entries should be rigorous,
and relevant. The objective is to narrow the gulf between academic
and the issues of the public policy debate. They should, according to
brief, be engaging, informative, inspiring and well-written. They
display new ideas, and contribute effective communication. They should
display an intersection between academic expertise, public perceptions
and understandings, government practice and principles and media
of major issues.
- Crisis of Authority: "Is there a crisis of authority in
industrial democracies? It is evident from the family to high politics
that authority is weaker and more defensinve than 30 years ago. Is this
the welcome result of the onward march of democracy and the decline of
elites and elitism? Or is it an unintended consequence of modernity
will undermine decncy and trust in human relations and reasoned
in public affairs?"
- Trade, Justice and Starvation: "Bill Clinton talks about
a human face on global capitalism. But is the western dominated global
trade system helping people out of their misery or locking them into
Do human rights have geographic boundaries and is trade bad for the
What are the responsibilities of the west and how can they best be met?"
- The End of Equality: "Does the third way need a theory
Equality of outcome has long since been abandoned as a political goal
the left, but what should take its place? The focus of the Blair
is on improving minimum standards at the bottom of the scale and
people through the labour market. Does this mean we should cease to
about the gap between rich and ppor so long as the poor are becoming
- The Next War? "After Kosovo and East Timor what should
of engagment for the western led international community? How do we
with the problem that those countries most willing to intervene to
liberal norms are also least able willing to sustain casualties? Will
inter-state conflict remain relatively small scale and beyond the
borders, or is the return to a large "third world war" conflict still
- Information without Knowledge: "The new knowledge
information with knowledge and fashion with judgement. Claims that the
internet will stimulate democracy, education and wealth creation and
to narrow the social divide have so far prived too optimistic. Can the
knowldege economy sceptics be confounded?"
Leadership, Competition and
- what Futures?
Well, I read this challenge with interest. If
am serious about trying to integrate social science, I should have
useful to say on at least one of these questions. If I
really serious about integrating social science, I should be able to
on ALL FIVE questions, and furthermore, integrate the answers into a
whole, shouldn't I? So I tried, and here are the results - designed to
be read in this particular order:
The judges of this competition thanked me for my entries but had no
comment to make. Such is life! So, if you cannot now be
to read all this junk, you might like to try a condensed version (of
except Knowledge), which I submitted as an entry to the American
Economics Association "Essay for the 21st. Century Competition".
This also failed to win approval, of course, so has now been re-written
and submitted to the Journal of
Economic Perspectives (Jan. 2001), who
also turned it down (June, 2001) as being too philosophical for their
tastes! A similar article was also submitted to Ecological Economics, who did at
least have the decency to return more extensive reviewers' comments,
the major one being that I should write it as a book, since the
arguments are too dense to fit into a journal article. One of
these days, I will get it written as a book. Meanwhile,
I may still have to go sailing instead.
Otherwise, I did finally manage to get some of this stuff published
(over the considerable antagonism of at least one referee) in the house
journal of the Academy
of Social Sciences - 21st
Century Society (2008) - thank you, Editor.
- Authority: Who needs it?
- Knowledge: How do we come by it and what
- Culture Clash and War
- Is Trustice Possible?
- Equality: the beginning or the end?
Well, this stuff makes some sort of sense to me!
Maybe the time has come to remove the "Agri" from "Agricultural
-> Cultural Economy (or Cultonomy; Culturomics; Comics?)
Some useful references:
MEANWHILE, I occupy quite a lot of my
time being the Editor of the Journal of
Agricultural Economics for the Agricultural Economics Society.
- Boulding, K.E., 1973, The Economy of
A preface to Grants Economics, Wadsworth, Belmont, California.
- Capra, F., 1996, The Web of Life: A New
of Mind and Matter, Harper Collins.
- Deutsch, D., 1997,The Fabric of Reality,
- Frank, R.H. 1988, Passions within Reason
Role of Emotions, Norton.
- Hofstede, G. 1994, Cultures and
- Margolis,S., 1982; Selfishness, Altruism
Cambridge University Press.
- North, D.C., 1990, Insititutions,
Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge University Press.
- Strange, S., 1994: States and Markets, 2nd.
- Tarnas, R., 1991: The Passion of the
Pimlico, Random House.
- Dennett, D. C., 1995: Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the
meanings of Life, Penguin Books
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Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed yourself.
& Suggestions welcome
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LAST UPDATED: October, 2010.
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