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Change and Continuity: Irrigation Technologies in South Bihar, India

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Document pages: 15 pages

Abstract: During the last two decades, technology studies literature has mostly focused on high-end and emerging technologies and overlooked mundane technologies. The current paper deviates from that trajectory and attempts to bring back the attention on mundane technologies by analysing irrigation technologies in South Bihar, India. The paper employs theoretical and conceptual insights from science and technology studies (STS) and especially engages with the literature on the social shaping of technology (SST) and technological change (TC). The paper elaborates how multiple socio-cultural and political factors influence the use and disuse of irrigation technologies by agrarian communities. Further, the paper expatiates how specific irrigation technologies have bearing on local environment and agricultural practices. The paper argues that technological change in the context of mundane technologies is a complex phenomenon. It does not follow a linear path but takes a complicated trajectory and occurs at multiple levels in different spatio-temporal contexts. New technologies often co-exist with the old ones and they do not entirely replace the old technologies. Resultantly, the technological landscape presents a mosaic version, where multiple strands and various types of technologies co-exist and they are differentially used by relevant social groups. Thus, technological change and continuity should be simultaneously analysed to understand the social context of irrigation technologies in South Bihar.

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