David Harvey's Research Page

(Where I try to have fun while being useful, and hope that you can, too)
"If our minds were simple enough for us to understand them, we would still be too stupid to do so"
(Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World)
[last update: October, 2010]

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working with and working out ideas
  • Policy Analysis
  • Modelling and Analysing Land Use/Environmental interactions
  • Conceptual Development of Social Science and Methods:
  • Play
    playing about with ideas

    Policy & Trade Analysis etc. (Old CAP, new HAT - Healthy Agricultural Trade?): Back to DRH Research IndexBack to DRH Research Index

    Modelling and Analysing Land Use/Environmental interactions (CAREful or what?)

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    Conceptual Development of Social Science and Methods:

    These ideas are currently being developed in working papers and associated teaching/learning materials, some of which are located on my teaching site (under the general heading of "The Nature of Enquiry & Explanation in the Social Sciences). Incidentally, if you think I am getting this stuff substantially wrong, please let me know. Presently, the key themes are as follows:

  • Reconciliation of Academic Rigour and Policy Relevance
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    The Prosepct/ESRC New Century Essay Challenge.

    In 1999, Prospect Magazine, in conjunction with the Economic and Social Science Research Council of the UK, issued a Challenge to Social Scientists to write an essay on one of five themes or questions deemed by the rulers of this challenge to encapsulate "the biggest issues of our times". Prospect Magazine bills itself as the leading British political and intellectual monthly magazine. So it should know, especially with the help of the ESRC, what these issues are. The five questions they set are as follows:

    1. Crisis of Authority: "Is there a crisis of authority in advanced 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 which will undermine decncy and trust in human relations and reasoned discourse in public affairs?"
    2. Trade, Justice and Starvation: "Bill Clinton talks about putting a human face on global capitalism. But is the western dominated global trade system helping people out of their misery or locking them into it? Do human rights have geographic boundaries and is trade bad for the environment? What are the responsibilities of the west and how can they best be met?"
    3. The End of Equality: "Does the third way need a theory of justice? Equality of outcome has long since been abandoned as a political goal of the left, but what should take its place? The focus of the Blair government is on improving minimum standards at the bottom of the scale and ÔincludingÕ people through the labour market. Does this mean we should cease to care about the gap between rich and ppor so long as the poor are becoming richer?"
    4. The Next War? "After Kosovo and East Timor what should be the rules of engagment for the western led international community? How do we deal with the problem that those countries most willing to intervene to enforce liberal norms are also least able willing to sustain casualties? Will violent inter-state conflict remain relatively small scale and beyond the westÕs borders, or is the return to a large "third world war" conflict still feasible?"
    5. Information without Knowledge: "The new knowledge economy confuses information with knowledge and fashion with judgement. Claims that the internet will stimulate democracy, education and wealth creation and help to narrow the social divide have so far prived too optimistic. Can the knowldege economy sceptics be confounded?"
    The brief for this essay series is that entries should be rigorous, readable and relevant. The objective is to narrow the gulf between academic thought and the issues of the public policy debate. They should, according to the brief, be engaging, informative, inspiring and well-written. They should 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 treatments of major issues.
    Leadership, Competition and Governance - what Futures?
    Well, I read this challenge with interest. If I am serious about trying to integrate social science, I should have something useful to say on at least one of these questions.  If I am really serious about integrating social science, I should be able to write on ALL FIVE questions, and furthermore, integrate the answers into a coherent whole, shouldn't I? So I tried, and here are the results - designed to be read in this particular order:
    1. Authority: Who needs it?
    2. Knowledge: How do we come by it and what does it mean?
    3. Culture Clash and War
    4. Is Trustice Possible?
    5. Equality: the beginning or the end?
    The judges of this competition thanked me for my entries but had no further comment to make.  Such is life!  So, if you cannot now be bothered to read all this junk, you might like to try a condensed version (of most except Knowledge), which I submitted as an entry to the American Agricultural 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.

    Well, this stuff makes some sort of sense to me!

    Maybe the time has come to remove the "Agri" from "Agricultural Economics"

    -> 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.

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    Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed yourself. Comments & Suggestions welcome

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    LAST UPDATED: October, 2010.
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