AN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
SOCIAL SCIENCE AGRICULTURAL AGENDAS AND STRATEGIES
a book produced
TO CHALLENGE RURAL AND BASIC SOCIAL SCIENTISTS
AND THEIR ADMINISTRATORS
Prelim inaries ................... .................. .......... 1-4
BROAD STRATEGIC CHALLENGES FOR
Administrators ................ ......................... 4
Social Scientists ........................................ 5
#1. Domestic Work and ................................. 7
#2. International Work .................................. 9
Four to Help Improve Farm and Rural:
#3. Institutions ..................................... ..... 10
#4. People .............. .................... ........ 11
#5. Resources ..................................... ..... 13
#6. Technology .......................................... 14
Four to Support the Above Agendas with Better:
#7. Data and Information ............................... 15
#8. Help From Basic Disciplines ............................ 17
#9. Handling of Ethics and Philosophic Issues ................. 18
#10. Administration and Funding ............................ 20
MORE DETAILED STRATEGIC CHALLENGES FOR
Administrators ........................................... 21
Social Scientists .......................................... 23
MEETING THE CHALLENGES ............................... 24
AN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
SOCIAL SCIENCE AGRICULTURAL AGENDAS AND STRATEGIES
This report summarizes an 600-page book of the same title that grew out of over five
years' work of the Social Science Agricultural Agenda Project (SSAAP). More than 400
rural and basic social scientists and agriculturalists contributed to SSAAP. Readers will
find references in this summary to those parts of the SSAAP book that elaborate on and
support what is presented herein. For instance, Chapter 1 of Part V of SSAAP's book
provides documented support for the conclusions reached in the introductory paragraphs
of this executive summary.
Today, agriculture, rural America, and food consumers are concerned about the viability of rural
communities, rural health care, disadvantaged minority and Caucasian farm and nonfarm rural
groups, food safety, environmental pollution, substance abuse, stress management, family insta-
bility, financial solvency, the efficiency of local governments and resource amenities the list
seems endless. The striking thing about the list is that, for the most part, the problems and issues
it reflects are not subject to "technical fixes." They all have important crucial social science
dimensions that must be addressed before the problems can be solved and the issues resolved.
In general, the relevance and capacities of the rural and basic disciplinary social sciences for
addressing such problems and issues are poorly understood in our public agricultural institutions.
Even in these institutions, where support for the rural social sciences should be most expected,
support is minimal relative to needs.
In attempting to explain the relative neglect of the social scientists, administrators have told SSAAP's
leaders that the social sciences are not as productive as the technical agricultural and the basic
or disciplinary biological and physical sciences. They have also stated that work on the social
dimensions of current problems and issues is difficult to finance. Neither assertion is consistent
with the historical record.
The social sciences have made major academic and practical contributions to farming,
agribusiness, rural society, and consumers. These have been:
Of an empirical and theoretical nature to (1) our understanding of human
development (human capital formation) in agriculture, (2) analysis of agricul-
tural development, (3) input/output analysis, and (4) the development of public
choice analysis. These four contributions have been recognized with Nobel
prizes and have contributed markedly to increased capacity of agriculturalists
to solve important problems and resolve crucial issues of agriculture, rural
societies and people, agribusinesses, and consumers.
To the development of the world's best primary data collection system and secon-
dary measures for agricultural production, prices, product utilization, income,
input usage, levels of living, consumption, demographic changes, etc.
To the disciplinary development of econometrics, linear programming, and oper-
To the design, establishment, and administration of national, state, and local
policies, programs, organizations, and facilities, including, as examples, the
production and farm credit administrations, the Bank for Cooperatives, mar-
keting cooperatives, price-support and production programs, the extension of
Social Security to farmers, the Soil Conservation Service, the Tennessee Valley
Authority, and other resource and development efforts such as the limited-input
sustainable agriculture program, etc. the list is long.
To the maintenance, modification, and reform of institutions, policies, programs,
organizations, and infra-structural facilities. Like the antibiotics, rust-resistant
wheats, machinery, computers, and pesticides developed by the biological and
physical scientists, the institutional creations of social scientists lose their effec-
tiveness, become obsolete, and in other ways require maintenance, modifica-
tion, and redesign. The fact that maintenance is required is not evidence that
the original social science work to create them was unproductive.
To the management and reorganization of farms, rural households, agribusinesses,
marketing cooperatives, agricultural organizations, semigovernmental businesses,
and to the design and administration of agricultural programs of national, state
or provincial, and local governments.
To Third World agricultural development programs, including those of such
successful now-developed countries as Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Taiwan,
that have done better than countries experiencing only technical "Green Revo-
lutions" without institutional reform, human capital formation, and the enhance-
ment of their natural and manmade resource bases.
* Contrary to common administrative assertions, financial support for work on the long-
neglected social science dimensions of our farm, rural, and consumer problems is avail-
able as indicated by:
The widespread criticism of the USDA/land-grant college system for being too
technocratic and neglecting alleged adverse societal impacts of the technologies
it has created on family farms, the environment, food chains, depopulated rural
communities, food quality, rural health, agribusinesses, farm laborers, the struc-
ture of the agricultural sector, etc. These criticisms need to be, can be, and
should be channelled into support for funding multidisciplinary problem-solving
and issue-oriented work on the social and humanistic dimensions of current
technical-change problems and issues by social scientists and humanists in our
The growing support for problem-solving and issue-oriented work important for
farming, agribusinesses, rural resources, consumers, disadvantaged rural groups,
the environment, food safety, etc., that is being obtained outside of agricultural
institutions from local, state, non-USDA federal, and international agencies for
social science and humanistic work that is occurring outside of our traditional agri-
cultural institutions. This work addresses various societal dimensions of both tech-
nological and nontechnological problems and issues faced by farmers, agribusi-
nesses, rural residents and consumers that have been partially or totally neglected
by traditional administrators and funders of our agricultural institutions. Institu-
tional change, human development, and improvements in natural and manmade
resources, as well as technical changes are studied. If our agricultural institu-
tions do not respond (and quickly), most of the potential funding to address these
pressing problems and issues will go elsewhere and important opportunities for
our agricultural institutions to contribute will be lost to institutions whose lack of
agricultural expertise and knowledge reduces the effectiveness in doing such work.
SSAAP is a national effort stimulated by neglect of the social science dimensions of problems
and issues important for farming, rural people and societies, rural resources, agribusinesses, and
consumers. Since World War II, public rural and agricultural investments have concentrated more
and more on technology to the benign neglect of rural society and people. SSAAP is responding
constructively to the opportunities presented by this neglect.
SSAAP's objectives as stated in its prospectus are:
Enhancement of the quality and effectiveness of research and related activities in the
rural social sciences and in the basic social science disciplines for improving farm and
agribusiness productivity, farm and nonfarm rural area development, nonfarm rural
resource development, and related aspects of general welfare by:
Creating a strategic agenda and set of broad priorities for U.S. and international
rural social science research, extension, consulting, advising, and related
Clarifying the different roles that both rural social scientists and disciplinary
social scientists should play to make effective contributions to the agricultural
establishment of the United States and the world.
Development of wide support in funding, administrative, and user communities for
the strategic research agenda developed by SSAAP.
All of the work rural and basic social scientists do in the food, fiber, and rural resource system
and in rural societies has been the concern of SSAAP resident instruction, extension, advise-
ment, legislation, consultation, activism, administration (both public and private), staff work and
entrepreneurship, as well as research.
The rural social sciences, like the technical agricultural sciences, depend on their underlying
basic disciplines. Agricultural economics, agricultural history, home economics (or human ecology),
and rural sociology depend on economics, history, sociology, anthropology, political science,
philosophy, psychology, geography, mathematics, and statistics. The individual rural social sciences
and individual technical agricultural sciences are more focused on practical problems and issues
than the basic disciplinary social biological and physical sciences; this concern with problems and
issues makes the rural social scientists more multidisciplinary than their underlying specialized
academic disciplines simply because practical problems and issues are multidisciplinary. A capa-
ble extension director, Ernest Nesius, observed many years ago that his administrative difficulty
was that "farmers have problems whereas universities have departments." SSAAP is concerned
with both the rural and basic social sciences and tries to exploit the synergism between their works.
In making the objective case for the social sciences, SSAAP's leadership has been acutely aware
of the narrow line they are attempting to tread between unjustified advocacy and objectivity.
SSAAP's case for the rural social sciences is not made at the expense of the biological and physi-
cal agricultural sciences. Because most of the sciences and humanities are necessary (but individually
insufficient) for doing multidisciplinary, problem-solving, and issue-oriented work (and even for
doing some basic disciplinary work), the social sciences cannot be emphasized at the expense
of the biological and physical sciences any more than the biological and physical sciences should
be emphasized at the expense of the social sciences. For our agricultural institutions to become
unduly "sociocratic" would be as unfortunate as their present undue technocracy.
Agendas and strategies, not priorities, are needed. During the course of SSAAP's work, it
became clear that major reorientations are needed of the organizations in which rural and dis-
ciplinary social scientists work, of the administrators of those organizations and, indeed, of many
social scientists themselves before we can adequately address the social science dimensions of
problems and issues of farmers; rural people and societies; food, fiber, and resource consumers
and users; and agribusinesses. It also became clear that such reorientations call for (1) a set of
broad overall strategies to facilitate the needed reorientation; (2) rural social science agendas that
indicate to all the important work the rural and basic social scientists can do effectively in our
public, semipublic, and private agricultural institutions and (3) additional, more detailed strate-
gies for funding and administering the work of rural and basic social scientists.
SSAAP'S BROAD STRATEGIC CHALLENGES
The Social Science Agricultural Agenda Project (SSAAP) holds that the rural and basic social
sciences should now strive to forge new, more contributory partnerships throughout the public,
semipublic, and private institutions serving agriculture. To accomplish this will challenge both
(1) administrators of public and private institutions and (2) rural and basic disciplinary social scien-
tists (inside as well as outside of agricultural institutions). The objective of the partnerships should
be that of better serving farmers and their families; agribusinesses; rural societies and people;
the consumers of food, fiber, and resource products and services; and, through these groups,
all of society.
THE BROAD CHALLENGES FOR ADMINISTRATORS ARE TO ENCOURAGE,
FACILITATE, AND FUND:
partnership roles in their organizations for the rural and basic disciplinary social scien-
the technical agricultural scientists, involving
the basic biological, physical and social scientists along with disciplinarians from philo-
sophy, statistics, and mathematics as needed to address
the social science dimensions of a wide variety of crucial rural, farmer, people, agribusi-
ness, community, resource, and consumer problems and issues that are detailed later in this
summary, many of which have long been unduly neglected by our agricultural institutions.
Success for the above partnerships requires that:
The social science dimensions of current and prospective multidisciplinary practical
problems and issue-related subjects be recognized and addressed.
Our agricultural institutions redress their present imbalance toward technology without neglecting
the technical advances required in the decades ahead. This will require more balanced atten-
tion than in the past to the four primary sources of improved human and societal capacity:
Improvements in institutions, policies, programs, organizations, and social infra-
Enhancement of natural and manmade resources
Our agricultural institutions reverse the post-World War II trend toward disciplinary
academic social, biological, and physical science work at the expense of multidiscipli-
nary work on practical problems and issues. The need is for redressing the current
imbalance rather than for elimination or sharp curtailment of disciplinary work. Both
kinds of work are essential and there is an important synergism between them.
Meeting the three requirements for success listed above will be easier if:
Work on practical multidisciplinary problems and issue-related subjects is rewarded
more adequately, i.e., as compared to disciplinary work.
Rural and basic social scientists constructively assist their administrators in: identifying
problems and issues involving the social sciences, designing and organizing projects
and programs to address such problems and issues, and in the funding, conduct, and
administration of such projects and programs.
Philosophic orientations besides logically positive, reductionist views are more widely
accepted as legitimate in our agricultural institutions. To date, other philosophies of
knowledge, agricultural ethics, and the study of values have been unduly neglected.
It is remembered that the value of scholarly disciplinary excellence is significantly
instrumental as a means of obtaining the problem-solving and issue-oriented output
society expects from all of its academic, research, and service institutions and, par-
ticularly, from the agricultural institutions in the USDA/land-grant system.
The productivity of the social sciences is recognized.
Criticisms of our agricultural institutions for neglecting the social science dimensions of farm,
rural, and consumer problems and issues are converted into support for social science work.
THE BROAD CHALLENGES FOR THE RURAL AND BASIC OR DISCIPLINARY
SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THEIR ASSOCIATED DISCIPLINES ARE THOSE OF
Multidisciplinary and multidepartmental problem-solving and issue or subject-matter
partnership or team efforts important for addressing problems and issues (some long-
neglected) for farming, agribusiness, rural people and societies, rural resource users
and owners, and consumers.
Applied, more specialized, disciplinary social science work in individual basic social
science disciplines that is relevant to problems and issues pertaining to agriculture, rural
societies, rural people and resources, agriculturally related businesses, and consumers.
Disciplinary work on deficiencies in the theories, techniques, and data of the basic social
science disciplines that constrain practical multidisciplinary work on problems and sub-
jects important to farmers, agribusinesses, rural societies, and consumers.
SSAAP has found that major reorientations of our agricultural institutions and their social scientists
are needed to place emphasis on the problems and issues of farmers and their families; rural peo-
ple and societies; food, fiber, and resource consumers and users; and agribusinesses. SSAAP
recognizes the danger that presenting a few simple priority initiatives for social science work
would fail to reorient our institutions and social scientists to the significantly greater role that
should be played by the social sciences. Thus, earlier in this summary, SSAAP called for a
broad reorientation of the administrators and social scientists in our agricultural institutions and
now presents ten sets of agendas in what follows. These agendas should be useful inputs in the
processes of setting the priorities of administrators and social scientists as they respond to SSAAP's
broad challenges. Priorities should be set federal agency by federal agency, state by state, local
government by local government, problem by problem, and issue by issue by those with respon-
sibilities for policies, programs, and projects (including funding) than by a temporary, national
organization of scientists and professionals such as SSAAP.
TEN CHALLENGING RURAL AND AGRICULTURAL
AGENDAS FOR THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
SSAAP's ten rural and agricultural agendas challenge both (1) rural and basic social scientists
and (2) their administrators. The agendas indicate what the rural and basic disciplinary social
sciences can effectively contribute in ten areas. All of these agendas should receive major atten-
tion in research, extension, resident instruction, advising, consulting, agribusiness, public
administration, and legislative efforts, and in the work of commodity, general farm and other
rural organizations. The ten agenda sets are only briefly summarized in this executive summary.
Much more detail can be found in the parts of SSAAP's book that are referenced throughout
this summary. The book also contains chapters and literature reviews that explain and support
SSAAP uses the following outline to present its agendas in this executive summary:
The first two agenda sets pertain to the problems and issues of farms (including homes
and families), agribusinesses, and consumers:
one set for domestic agriculture and
the other set for the agriculture of less developed countries (LDCs).
The next four agenda sets deal with the four primary (driving) forces for improving
food, resource, and fiber systems; rural societies; the well-being of consumers; and
the lives of rural people. The four forces include:
institutional and policy improvements,
the enhancement and improvement of natural and manmade resource bases, and
Four more of SSAAP's agendas cut across all six of the above agendas. They include:
databases and supporting information systems,
the basic disciplinary social sciences,
agroethics and philosophic orientations, and
research on the administration and funding of our agricultural institutions and
their rural and basic social science work.
The above ten agenda sets which are briefly summarized below are in addition to the administra-
tive and funding strategies developed by SSAAP that (1) were presented in broad form at the
beginning of this summary and (2) will be presented in more detail at its end.
TWO AGENDAS FOR DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL SERVICE: Traditionally, rural
social scientists have been effective in and have been reasonably well financed and administered
when serving domestic production agriculture, farm families, agribusinesses, farm organizations,
and consumers. More recently, rural social scientists have also earned substantial support for
international farm and rural development work by going outside our traditional agricultural
institutions to earn support while doing their own administrative work. SSAAP recognizes the
continuing importance of these two areas with separate agendas. These agendas reflect the current
circumstances and changes that make it desirable to modify traditional agendas of agricultural
economists, rural sociologists, home economists, and others in these two areas.
Challenging agendas for domestic farming, farm families, agribusinesses, and
consumers: these agendas pertain to traditional rural social science work important
to the indicated domestic groups. SSAAP's agendas (Part II, Section 1, Chapter 9,
of SSAAP's book) for this area include items having to do with:
Impacts of the globalization of agriculture, shifts in competitiveness of U.S. agricul-
ture, and changes in international monetary and fiscal and trade arrangements on U.S.
farms, agribusinesses, and consumers.
Development of new agricultural institutions and adaptation of old ones for a global
market economy in which international agreements on new rules and standards are neces-
sary for the stability and effectiveness of our agricultural sector.
Finding the delicate balance required between reliance on governmental and parastatal
interventions versus market forces in making needed institutional, human, natural and
manmade physical resource improvements and technical advances.
* Investigation and design of institutions, policies, and programs for controlling the ten-
dencies for market-regulated agricultural sectors and subsectors to outproduce effec-
tive demand at prices that do not permit full recovery of expenditures and investments
by either individual farmers or society as a whole.
* A number of new problems and issues to which social scientists should contribute such
as environmental pollution, family instability, rural health, local governmental services,
nutrition, stress management, the treatment of animals, worker safety, food-chain
contamination, teenage pregnancy the list of new concerns of farmers and their
families, agribusinesses, and consumers seems endless.
* Needed changes in U.S. monetary/fiscal, trade, national farm, and other policies and
programs affecting these same groups and the impacts on these same groups of the
structural shifts now occurring in the United States because of technical, institutional,
human, and resource and environmental changes in agricultural and rural areas.
* The changes needed by farmers, agribusinesses, and consumers in technology, institu-
tions, human capacity, and resources and in the institutions that generate such changes
(related agendas are found in Part III, Sections 1 through 4, as well as in Part II, Sec-
tion 1, Chapter 9, of SSAAP's book).
* Agricultural credit as part of a national credit system that is now in crisis.
* The impacts of the bimodalization of farms (more large, fewer medium and more smaller part-
time and residential farms) on farming, rural societies and agricultural service institutions.
* Needed improvements in the management of farms, businesses, farm homes, agribusi-
nesses, and urban consumer households. This requires:
Better integration of research, extension, and resident instruction work across
farm, business, and home activities. (Note: even incorporated U.S. farms are
mostly family corporations.)
Improvement and further development of managerial theory to deal with the multi-
disciplinarity of the iterative/interactive, participatory nature of real-world
decision- and choice-making processes of farmers, homemakers, agribusiness
persons, and public administrators.
Further development of what is known in social science literature as the public
(really multiperson) choice/transaction cost approach to analyses of farm and
home, agribusiness and consumer problems and issues (see Part III Introduc-
tion; Part III, Section 1, Chapters 1 and 7; and Part IV, Section 3, Chapters
1 and 3, of SSAAP's book) utilizing:
Theories and information from the basic social, biological and physical
science and humanistic disciplines (see Part IV, Section 2, of SSAAP's
book) as they are relevant.
Value as well as value-free and pragmatic knowledge.
Less reductionistic, less positivistic philosophic orientations (see Part IV,
Section 3, of SSAAP's book).
Improved information systems and databases (Part III, Section 1, Chap-
ters 1 and 3, of SSAAP's book).
Challenging agendas for international farm and rural development: In addition
to analyzing the domestic impacts of the globalization of international money markets
and markets for agricultural products, U.S. social scientists have earned support from
outside our traditional domestic agricultural institutions for their direct and indirect
contributions to farm and rural development in Third World countries. Important
challenges and opportunities continue in this area for social scientists and their administrators
that are reflected in SSAAP's agendas (see Part II, Section 2, Chapter 11, of SSAAP's book)
that pertain to:
The impacts of international monetary/fiscal and trade developments on Third World
agriculture and international rural development assistance.
Third World farm and rural development policies including attention to the delicate
balance between reliance on governmental interventions versus market forces in making
needed institutional, human, natural and manmade physical resource improvements,
and technical advances.
Multidisciplinary work on problems and subject-matter issues important to Third World
farm, agribusiness, and home and family managers; natural and manmade resource
generators, users, enhancers, and conservers; and nonfarm consumers and users of
food, fiber, and natural resource services and commodities.
Food security and the even more important, closely related problems of low income
and poverty in the agriculture of many Third World countries.
Country-specific resource-sustainability, environmental-pollution, and food-chain-con-
tamination problems arising from structural and technical changes in both Third World
and developed countries.
Meeting Third World agricultural and rural institutional needs such as those for policy
development and implementation; research, resident instruction, and extension func-
tions; agricultural production and marketing; regulatory standards; and databases and
Needed multidisciplinary team efforts of technical agricultural, basic biological and phys-
ical, along with rural and basic social scientists to model and analyze the global social
as well as the more commonly stressed global technical consequences of the structural,
institutional, technical, human, and resource changes now taking place in world agricul-
ture. The public choice/transaction cost approach promises to be of increasing value in
modeling such global consequences in time, space, demographic, income, and other
social dimensions of world agriculture. (See the next set of agendas on institutions as
well as Part II Introduction and Part III, Section 1, Chapter 7, of SSAAP's book.)
Important agroethical issues for Third World farmers and their families, agribusinesses,
and consumers that cry out for attention from rural and basic social scientists to work
on them in close partnership with philosophers and humanists as well as with technical
agricultural and basic biological and physical scientists (see Part II, Section 2, Chap-
ters 5 and 10; and Part IV, Section 3, of SSAAP's book).
Internationally, Third World agricultural and rural databases remain inadequate and
poorly developed for assisting farmers, agribusiness people, and consumers. Meeting
these inadequacies demands a wide range of efforts from social scientists working closely
with such auxiliary disciplines as statistics, mathematics, and computer science (for
more details, see the databases subheading below and Part II, Section 2, Chapter 11,
of SSAAP's book).
FOUR AGENDAS ABOUT THE PRIMARY FORCES FOR IMPROVING FOOD, RURAL
RESOURCE AND FIBER SYSTEMS; RURAL SOCIETIES; AND THE LIVES OF RURAL
PEOPLE: The four forces include: institutional improvements, human development, the
enhancement of natural and manmade resource bases, and technological advance. Analyses of
rural and farm development experiences here and abroad indicate that each of these forces is necessary
but individually insufficient for progress. Neglect of any of the four greatly diminishes progress.
Since World War II, after decades of keeping the four in reasonably good balance, our agricultural
institutions have increasingly stressed one of the four technology to the neglect of institutions
and people. Even the recent increased emphasis on resources, the environment, and food chains
neglects their social science dimensions in favor of their biological and physical science dimensions
Challenging agendas for improving rural and agricultural institutions: The design,
adaptation, improvement, and reform of institutions is necessarily a primary domain
of the social sciences. As viewed by SSAAP, institutions includes (1) organizations
and (2) their programs, policies, facilities, and staffs, as well as (3) "rules of the
game." The domestic and international agendas presented above consider changes
in our international trade and monetary/fiscal institutions and policies; changes in domestic
farm price, production control, marketing, and related organizations, policies, and programs;
and changes in our agricultural credit institutions. Further, the next three agendas address
problems and issues pertaining to our institutions for human development, the enhancement
of natural and manmade resources and the generation of technological advance. Still later
agendas treat institutions concerned with databases and information systems, the undergird-
ing basic social science disciplines, and the administration of our agricultural organizations.
Thus, the substantive institutional agendas in this set focus mainly on local, state, private-
sector, and voluntary institutions, organizations, facilities, and staffs. However, more generic
agenda items that pertain to all kinds of institutional change are also considered here. These
substantive agenda items are concerned with needs:
For study of change and development in rural communities and areas.
To design, evaluate, assess, analyze, and utilize state and local institutions, programs
and policies, and the services they create.
To assist local, state, and provincial governments in making their revenue collection
and utilization operations more effective.
To improve public choices and private decisions concerning institutions with greater
attention to the roles of values and ethics (also see Part IV, Section 3, Chapters 2 and
3, of SSAAP's book).
To research the profound social, economic, and demographic changes that rural society
is undergoing and to do this in close participation with relevant decision makers and
affected people in order to provide better bases for making appropriate institutional
modifications to facilitate the adjustment of farms, agribusinesses, consumers, and rural
communities to such changes.
To help local governments and nongovernmental rural organizations reorganize and
operate more effectively in serving different farm as well as nonfarm rural clienteles.
To better understand and deal with the ethical aspects of institutions used to resolve
conflicts. (See also Part IV, Section 3, Chapters 2 and 3, of SSAAP's book.)
For federal, state, and local governments to develop more adequate databases for
rural decision making. (See also Part IV, Section 1, Chapters 2 and 3, of SSAAP's book.)
From a more generic point of view, one of the most exciting and promising current develop-
ments in the social sciences is the evolution of the public choice/transaction cost (PC/TC)
approach to public and multiperson choices and decisions. For the rural social sciences this
development may be as significant as biogenetic engineering is for the technical agricultural
sciences. Like biogenetics, the public choice/transaction cost approach is, as yet, quite primi-
tive. It is also unduly specialized on economics. Social scientists need to further develop
the public choice/transaction cost approach by integrating and extending its theoretical structure
to make it capable of handling induced innovation, technology diffusion, and rent-seeking
phenomena as special cases in a more general approach (see also Part III Introduction; Part
III, Section 1, Chapters 1 and 7; Part III, Section 3, Chapters 1 and 7; and Part IV, Section
3, of SSAAP's book) by:
Making it truly multidisciplinary among the social, biological and physical sciences,
and humanities so as to be able to work with theories, variables, and data from these
disciplines as needed in addressing the relevant multidisciplinary dimensions of the
problems and issues important for rural institutions.
Recognizing the interdependencies of three manifestations of institutional change,
namely, changes in: the "rules of the game," organizations, and facilities and staffs.
Recognizing and estimating both the stock and operating (or flow) costs and returns
that are encountered in establishing, replacing, and dismantling institutions in all of
Identifying, distinguishing between, and measuring the monetary and nonmonetary worth
of existing and possible replacement institutions. This should be done in terms of both
flow and stock values and of intrinsic as well as exchange or extrinsic values.
Distinguishing between institutional changes made for productive purposes and those
changes made mainly to create income streams (both monetary and nonmonetary) for
noncontributing groups and individuals.
Identifying better the roles played by losses with respect to replacement costs (negative
quasi-rents) and of gains with respect to dismantlement costs (positive quasi-rents) of
institutions that are fixed in any of their manifestations because it is not advantageous
to change them.
Challenging agendas for human development and the rural disadvantaged of
the U.S.: This is the second of SSAAP's agendas pertaining to the four primary
forces for farm and rural development. Human development and the rural disad-
vantaged are so widely neglected by our agricultural institutions and their rural social
scientists that the agendas summarized herein present some of the most challenging
and important opportunities identified by SSAAP for serving farming and rural societies.
For details, see the agendas of Part III, Section 2, Chapter 10, in SSAAP's book. Those
agendas relate to:
Helping reshape the resident instruction, youth, and adult outreach programs of our
agricultural institutions to update the skills and capacities of the rural disadvantaged
(including women) without neglecting the rural advantaged whose improved skills and
capacities are also needed.
Helping (again without neglecting the rural advantaged whose skills and capacities are
also crucial) improve the focus on disadvantaged rural groups of the K-12 educational
system in rural areas by:
Researching and, in other ways, addressing the redistribution of educational rights
and privileges and the ownership of other property rights and privileges needed
to alleviate the poverty of disadvantaged rural groups and increase their contri-
butions to society.
Increasing descriptive social science work done on the problems of disadvantaged
rural groups. This should include descriptive work on values relevant for defining
and resolving the problems of these same groups.
Pursuing the more detailed agendas published in SSAAP's book (Part III, Section
2, Chapter 10) that devote special attention to disadvantaged rural Caucasian,
African, Hispanic and Native Americans. SSAAP's special agendas for rural
social sciences' assistance to these groups include:
Establishing close, participatory interactions with disadvantaged rural Cau-
casian (the largest disadvantaged group), African, Hispanic, and Native
Seeking out, doing, and (where necessary) initiating, designing, and lead-
ing multidisciplinary and multidepartmental public- and/or private-agency
work on the problems and issues of the rural disadvantaged.
Using the expanded and improved public choice/transaction cost approach
(see the agenda immediately above on improving and using the public
choice/transaction cost approach) to do iterative, interactive, multidis-
ciplinary systems analyses of public and multiple-person choices and
decisions involving poverty elimination and the promotion of human
capital formation among disadvantaged rural groups.
* Remedying those deficiencies in the basic social science disciplines (BSSDs) that con-
strain the ability of the rural social sciences (RSSs) to address human development and
poverty problems of disadvantaged groups (see Part III, Section 2, Chapter 10, of
SSAAP's book). With financial and other support from the administrators in our agricul-
tural institutions and elsewhere, rural and basic social scientists should:
Develop improved conceptualizations of the roles that social, political, anthro-
pological, psychological, geographic, historical, and economic variables play
in the processes of human development and poverty alleviation, so that such
variables can be better incorporated into multidisciplinary, interactive/iterative
systems models and/or scenario analyses of the domains of problems and issues
pertaining to human development and disadvantaged groups.
Try to overcome the long-standing difficulties in the social sciences that result
from the questionable interpersonal validity and lack of cardinality of measures
of values used to define and resolve equality (redistributive) issues vis-a-vis human
development and poverty. See the crosscutting agendas below on (1) the basic
social sciences and (2) agro-ethics, and Part IV, sections 2 and 3, of SSAAP's
* Improving databases (see Part IV, Section 1, of SSAAP's book) on
rural "human capital generating" institutions, activities, and the people served
by them and
disadvantaged farm and nonfarm rural groups.
Challenging agendas for the enhancement, conservation, development, and
utilization of natural and manmade rural resource bases: This is the third set
of "primary-force" agendas developed by SSAAP. Natural and man-made resource
5 agendas interrelate for two reasons. First, natural resources are used in creating man-
made resources. Second, manmade resources substitute for and complement natural
resources to increase the productivity of the latter. SSAAP further recognizes that some
nonrenewable natural resources are necessarily destroyed by use (examples include coal,
petroleum, and fossil water), whereas other natural resources can be maintained at, above,
or below their original "natural" levels while still others, such as solar energy, must be
used, stored, or wasted. For all three kinds of resources, optimal patterns of use, conser-
vation, and enhancement need to be determined through time, across space, among individuals
and groups, and in still other physical and social dimensions. For those natural resources
that can be maintained, enhanced and/or renewed, optimal investments and expenditures
on their maintenance, enhancement, and renewal need to be determined. Environmental pol-
lution, health risks, and food chain contamination are crucial, associated resource dangers.
The following relate to the more detailed important agendas presented in Part III, Section
3, Chapter 7, of the SSAAP book:
Evaluation of resource policy options.
Analysis of the effect of market, social, and political elements on the supply and pro-
duction costs of and demand for widely divergent physical products and services derived
from natural resources. Examples of such products and services include: timber, fish
and marine products, minerals, wildlife, water, scenery, farm commodities, coastlines,
and water and other recreational services, hunting, solitude of wilderness areas, carbon
dioxide fixation, oxygenation of the atmosphere, and ozone protection.
Investigation of the behavior and attitudes of users of natural resources and resource
Investigations of resource degradation, environmental pollution, and food-chain con-
Establishment of better interactions of resource owners and users with public resource
agencies to help solve problems and resolve issues at international, federal, state, and
local levels, both public and private.
Determination of optimal rates of depletion, maintenance, and enhancement of a wide
variety of natural resources under different relevant circumstances.
Increased use of an expanded and improved version of the public choice/transaction
cost approach that is already being used increasingly by resource professionals in
analyzing and designing changes in resource institutions. (See the relevant agenda items
above under the heading "Challenging Agendas for Rural and Agricultural Institutions"
including the references therein to specific parts of SSAAP's book.) The needed
improvements in the public choice/transaction cost approach are treated there and are
presented in more detail below under the heading "Challenging Agendas for Agro-
Ethics and Philosophic Reorientations. (Also see Part III, Section 3, Chapter 7, and
Part IV, Section 3, Chapter 3, of SSAAP's book.) Multidisciplinary, iterative/inter-
active, participatory systems analyses are needed of the domains of problems and issues
involving natural and manmade resources.
Disciplinary work on how to model variables from such specialized disciplines as
sociology, biology, political science, atmospheric physics, geography, economics,
geography, hydrology, economics, geology, anthropology, and ethics in doing iterative/
interactive, participatory, multidisciplinary problem solving and subject-matter analysis
of natural and manmade resource problems and issues.
Development of improved databases and information systems for natural and manmade
resources, including information on relevant monetary and nonmonetary values as well
as relatively value-free data and information.
More extensive treatment of the ethical and value dimension of natural and manmade
resources including environmental pollution, food-chain contamination, and questions
of justice and equity both within and between generations.
Challenging agendas with respect to technical advance: This is the fourth driving
force for which SSAAP developed agendas. Despite the fact that our agricultural
and other research, education, service, and outreach institutions now place much
more emphasis on this driving force than the other three, much social science work
is needed in this area because (1) technological advance will continue to be required
by farmers, agribusinesses, and households, and (2) social science dimensions of technical
change have been seriously neglected. SSAAP's technical advance agendas, which are presented
in detail in Part III, Section 4, Chapter 2, of its book, support the following conclusions.
Technical advances in farm production, farm product processing, resource management,
institutional management, and consumption will continue to be essential. Thus
SSAAP does not advocate reduced attention to technical advance by our agricul-
tural institutions, but
SSAAP does place high on its agenda increased attention to the social science
dimensions of generating, disseminating, and using technical advances, while
stressing the complementarity that exists between technical advance and improve-
ments in the other three driving forces institutional improvements, develop-
ment of human capabilities, and enhancement of natural and manmade resources.
Improved partnerships are particularly needed between the social and the biological
and physical sciences to focus more attention on the social dimensions of technical change
that are important for rural societies and for the food, fiber, and natural resource system.
The specialized "technology diffusion" studies of sociologists and the equally special-
ized induced "technical change" studies of economists should be extended into truly
multidisciplinary analyses of technical change in farming, agribusiness, rural societies,
and rural households. Carrying out this agenda item involves further development of
the public choice/transaction cost approach as outlined in the agendas presented under
the subsections labeled challenging agendas for improving rural and agricultural insti-
tutions above and challenging agendas with respect to agroethics and philosophic
The improved and expanded public choice/transaction cost approach called for in the
previous item is needed to analyze and solve problems or resolve issues pertaining to
the design, implementation, and operation of technology-generating institutions and
the consequences of the technical changes those institutions generate. Doing this requires
Improve databases for technical change (see subsequent subsection on challenging
agendas concerning databases and supporting information systems and Part IV,
Section 1, of SSAAP's book).
Use the basic social sciences to assist in specifying, quantifying, and incorporating
sociological, political, anthropological, psychological, historical, economic,
geographic, and ecological, as well as biological, hydrological, geological, and
atmospheric variables in iterative and interactive multidisciplinary public
choice/transaction cost analyses of technical changes and in the design modifi-
cation and evaluation of technical change institutions.
Develop descriptive knowledge of the values pertaining to technical change for
use in resolving issues and solving problems concerning technical change and
Philosophically reorient many administrators and "working professionals" in
our agricultural institutions to facilitate the generation and use of the descrip-
tive value knowledge needed in reaching prescriptions to resolve practical issues
and solve practical problems about agricultural technology.
FOUR CROSSCUTTING AGENDAS: There are three crosscutting agendas in SSAAP's book
for (1) databases and supporting information systems, (2) the basic social sciences, (3) agro-ethics
and philosophic reorientations, and, in this executive summary, (4) SSAAP's agendas for needed
administrative and funding research are treated as a fourth crosscutting set.
Challenging agendas concerning databases and supporting information systems:
This, the first of the four crosscutting agendas presented here, focuses on databases
and information systems essential for describing, analyzing, and acting on rural and
agricultural problems and issues. To develop their databases, the social sciences must
observe and measure phenomena as they occur in the complex, interacting, real social
world rather than in the simpler, controlled conditions of a laboratory. In this respect, the
social sciences tend to be more like astronomy than chemistry or physics. The care and
resources that must go into statistical measurement and into the design of social science
information systems, procedures, and institutions are critical to the objectivity, accuracy,
and relevance of the analyses and decisions that depend on social science databases and infor-
mation systems. SSAAP's database and information system agenda (see Part IV, Section 1,
Chapter 3, of SSAAP's book) for the federal government, international agencies, and
state and local agencies includes attention to needs for:
Improved coordination of data for decisions on rural problems. Presently, responsibility
for collecting, maintaining, and disseminating U.S. data on rural areas and popula-
tions is scattered throughout the federal government. A single USDA agency should
be given authority to coordinate the planning and implementation of all federal statisti-
cal activities relating to food, agriculture, and rural community welfare and develop-
ment. Coordination is also needed between and within states.
More systematic input from users in designing and modifying social science databases
and information systems at all levels.
Rural social science work with appropriate national and international institutions to
improve the quality of data in Third World countries by:
Assessing data and ongoing statistical survey and census programs of less
developed countries (LDCs), developed countries (DCs), and international
agencies as to their suitability for social science research.
Defining data needs according to policy research needs and other objectives of users.
Promoting communication and collaboration among institutions, especially
between those in DCs and LDCs.
Encouraging the planning and implementation of long-term statistical develop-
ment programs in accord with priorities of individual developing countries.
Encouraging the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Statistical Office
of the United Nations, through U.S. representation, to organize the evaluation
and conceptualization of alternative approaches for improving the development
and implementation of food, agricultural, and rural statistics capability in all
of their member nations.
* The American Agricultural Economics Association's (AAEA's) Economic Statistics
Committee (in cooperation with the Rural Sociological Society and other professional
associations, plus the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agricultural
Statistics Service (NASS) of the USDA, as well as land-grant-university social science
departments) to establish a multidisciplinary task force to:
Develop a more complete, integrated conceptual base for describing and analyzing
the food system and rural society at state, local, agribusiness, farm, and house-
hold levels in coordination with national databases.
Create operational definitions of relevant social science variables and con-
cepts so that measurements can be made conceptually consistent from under-
lying social science theories through statistical data collection procedures
to the quantitative analyses to be performed. This large, complex task is not
quickly or easily done.
Develop and apply the above conceptual frameworks in the work of NASS, ERS,
the Bureau of the Census, and other relevant government agencies to
improve federal data collection, processing and analysis programs and
create a coordinated, government-wide, ten-year statistical development
program for rural policy.
* More and better descriptive knowledge of values. Some of the values involved are mone-
tary (prices, income, expenditures) while others are nonmonetary. Some values are
more intrinsic while others (including prices) are extrinsic or exchange in nature. The
following agenda items are important for the work of the RSSs.
Expansion and improvement of databases and information systems on such mone-
tary values as input and product prices; expenditures; income (net and gross);
the marginal earnings of land, labor, capital, and management; returns to
institutional investments and disinvestments; taxation; distributions of monetary
and nonmonetized incomes, etc.
Development of descriptive data and information systems on nonmonetary values
that are important for public choice and private decisions, such as the more
intrinsic and nonmonetary exchange values pertaining to the environment, food
chain, human health, animal welfare, poverty, disadvantaged groups, justice,
equality, participation, and many other conditions, situations, and things of
important nonmonetary intrinsic and/or exchange value.
Improvement of descriptive data and information about values as to their
+ interpersonal validity and
cardinality as opposed to ordinality.
Though these two measurement difficulties have long hampered such basic
disciplinary social sciences as economics, sociology, political science, and
anthropology and philosophy, efforts to overcome them must be continued
because these data deficiencies seriously constrain problem-solving and issue-
oriented work of all agriculturalists including rural social scientists.
Merging (in our information system) the use of specialized econometric and other dis-
ciplinary techniques and methods into broader multidisciplinary, philosophically more
eclectic, iterative/interactive, participatory efforts employing an expanded and improved
public (multiple person) choice/transaction cost approach as recommended by SSAAP
(see particularly the headings above on rural and agricultural institutions and the one
below on agro-ethics and philosophical orientations and the corresponding sections
of SSAAP's book (Part III, Sections 1 and 3, and Part IV, Section 3).
Challenging Agendas for the Basic Social Science Disciplines (BSSDs): This is
the second of the four agenda sets that cut across the first six more problem- and
issue-oriented agendas considered above. Much as the basic biological and physical
IIsciences undergird the technical agricultural sciences, the BSSDs support the rural
social sciences (RSSs) with disciplinary theories, basic measurements and techniques.
Disciplinary deficiencies of the basic social sciences limit the problem-solving and subject-
matter or issue-oriented work of either the rural social or technical agricultural sciences in
ways that make disciplinary work to remedy such deficiencies a prerequisite for successful
multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter work. Also, the favorable synergistic
impact of problem-solving and subject-matter work on basic disciplinary work is at least
as important for the basic social as for the basic biological and physical science disciplines.
Still further, in both cases, applied, specialized disciplinary work makes significant contri-
butions to the multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter work of our public and
private agricultural institutions. Both social and bio-physical disciplinary skills are commonly
needed by multiisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter teams addressing farm, rural,
and consumer problems and issue-oriented subjects.
With respect to applied disciplinary social science work on the food, fiber, and resource
system and rural societies, the desire of disciplinarians to do such work should be
encouraged and financed by our agricultural institutions so long as the applications are
germane to the problem-solving and subject-matter responsibilities and missions of our
agricultural institutions. In financing such work, agricultural administrators should
SApplied disciplinary work seldom has enough breadth to address all of the numerous,
relevant disciplinary dimensions of a given practical problem or issue (subject),
which leaves responsibility for obtaining such coverage with the administrations of
our agricultural institutions rather than with the administrators of specialized basic
disciplines such as economics, biogenetics, sociology, physics, or anthropology. If
this responsibility is not recognized by agricultural and other administrators alike,
there is danger of not fulfilling the problem-solving and subject-matter responsi-
bilities of our agricultural institutions. Our political system will not long allow the
problem-solving and subject-matter resources of our agricultural institutions to be
used for applied disciplinary work if administrators do not provide the coordina-
tion and demand relevance for solving the problems and resolving issues assigned
to our agricultural institutions by funders and different supporting clienteles.
Disciplinarians often have a greater interest in peer-reviewed (by other disci-
plinarians) publications than in practical problems and/or issues important in
carrying out the obligations our agricultural institutions have to their different
clienteles. In this respect, basic social science disciplinarians seem to differ little
from their basic biological and physical science disciplinary counterparts.
* Although responsibility for funding basic disciplinary research and training in the social
basic sciences resides mainly outside our agricultural institutions, the funds of our agricul-
tural institutions can be appropriately used to
Support basic social science disciplinary training of agriculturalists (including
rural social scientists) made necessary by the multidisciplinarity of the practical
problem-solving and subject-matter responsibilities of our agricultural institutions.
Support research to remedy deficiencies in the basic social science disciplines
that are known to limit solutions of practical problems and the resolution of
practical issues faced by our agricultural institutions. See Part IV, Section 2,
Chapter 5, of SSAAP's book for detailed agenda items that focus on such rele-
vant disciplinary deficiencies.
Support participation of disciplinary social scientists in multidisciplinary problem-
solving and subject-matter teams in order to exploit the favorable synergistic
effects of disciplinary work on problem-solving and subject-matter efforts. (See
the next agenda item on problem-solving and subject-matter work by social
* There are continuing roles for social science disciplinarians to play in the ongoing
multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter work of our agricultural insti-
tutions. These include related work in such disciplines as philosophy, statistics, and
mathematics as well as roles for
disciplinary sociologists, economists, and historians (even though these have
rural social science counterparts), and
M anthropologists, psychologists, geographers, philosophers, mathematicians,
systems scientists, and other disciplines without formally organized rural
Ways of arranging for such disciplinary contributions include the use of consul-
tancies, contracts, cooperative agreements, and a variety of other arrangements
that specify financial and performance responsibilities while making clear the
multidisciplinary nature of the practical problem-solving and subject-matter efforts
to which disciplinarians will contribute.
* SSAAP's agendas call repeatedly for the development and extension of the transaction
cost/public choice approach into a truly multidisciplinary approach. Accomplishing this
will require theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions from all of the
basic social science disciplines.
Challenging agendas with respect to agroethics and philosophic orientations: This
is the third set of agendas that cut across the first six agenda sets. Many rural and
basic social scientists and administrators of our agricultural institutions are commit-
ted to a philosophic orientation sometimes labeled reductionistt logical positivism."
Being reductionist, this orientation tends to fragment the quest for knowledge in the
conviction that fragmentary bits of knowledge can be assembled into overall bodies of
knowledge. As such, this orientation does not serve multidisciplinary teams doing holistic
multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter work as well as it serves disciplinarians
attempting to improve the theories, measurements and techniques of their specialized dis-
ciplines and subdisciplines. Further, since logical positivism presupposes the impossibility
of using experience to derive empirical descriptions of values as characteristics of the real
world, that orientation makes it difficult for its adherents to perceive of having or even trying
to attain objective descriptive knowledge of "real world" values to use in doing problem-
solving and subject-matter work. Also restricted by this orientation is a considerable portion
of the disciplinary work done on exchange (or extrinsic) and intrinsic values in such basic
disciplinary social sciences as economics, sociology, political science, history, geography,
and anthropology. Social scientists as advisors, consultants, resident instructors, adminis-
trators, activists, extension workers, and entrepreneurs must often deal with nonmonetary
values in ways that presume interpersonal, descriptive validity and cardinality of value
knowledge. Unfortunately, many administrators of our agricultural institutions bring reduc-
tionist, logically positivistic orientations with them from biological, physical, and even social
science backgrounds when they assume administrative responsibilities in our agricultural
In recent years, approximately ten national conferences on agro-ethics have arisen out of
neglect of the social science dimensions of such practical rural and farm problems and issues
as those involving institutional changes, animal welfare, poverty, human development, tech-
nical change, food-chain contamination, environmental pollution, disadvantaged minorities,
rural poverty, gender inequality, and natural resource degradation. These conferences and
SSAAP's own work indicate the importance of:
Establishing research, resident instruction, and extension programs both within and
outside of the land-grant/USDA system to deal with the normative dimensions and ethical
aspects of the practical problems and subject-matter issues of rural societies and the
food, fiber, and natural resource system.
Encouraging disciplinary work in the basic social science disciplines and humanities
on values, public choosing, and private decision making to:
Increase the interpersonal descriptive validity and cardinality of our knowledge
Improve our knowledge of decision rules for converting value and rela-
tively value-free knowledge into prescriptive knowledge for solving
Recognizing the various complex roles of optimization in reaching prescriptions.
Further work on the public choice (multiple person)/transaction cost approach
to public and private choices and decisions to move that approach beyond its
present rather primitive state by participating actively in its expansion and
development as outlined in the above subsection called challenging agendas for
improving rural and agricultural institutions. (See also Part IV, Section 2, Chapter
3, of SSAAP's book.)
M Iterative/interactive, participatory, multidisciplinary scenario analyses of proble-
matic and subject-matter domains.
Challenging agendas pertaining to research on administration and fund-
ing: Despite substantial research capabilities, our agricultural institutions fail
to do adequate research on their own administrative and funding problems.
Crosscutting social science research is needed on important decisions concern-
ing the organization and funding of our agricultural institutions. This research
should be done in and funded by both land-grant and non-land-grant universities, the USDA,
the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Science Foundation, private
foundations, and industry. (See Part V, Chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8, of SSAAP's book for
much more detail concerning and supporting this set of agendas.) SSAAP's agenda includes
Improve the administration and organization of rural and disciplinary social science
teaching in order, for example, to:
Establish appropriate mixes and scopes of general education, disciplinary, profes-
sional, and "hands-on" experiences for students.
Improve the international dimensions of courses/curriculum.
Determine the types and numbers of undergraduate rural social science majors
that should be offered in a modern undergraduate agriculture college.
Appraise alternative graduate education models for the rural and basic disciplinary social
sciences involving an appropriate balance between specialization to advance a discipline
or agricultural field and the need to provide broader educational experiences for farm
and rural professionals who will work on multidisciplinary, real-world problems and
subjects or issues.
Discover more systematic ways to keep rural social and technical agricultural scien-
tists informed about advances in their respective basic disciplines, on one hand, and
for improving their skills for working cooperatively with each other in multidisciplinary
teams on practical, multidisciplinary problems and subjects, on the other.
Improve off-campus educational systems to utilize various technological developments,
alternative media, and new organizational relationships and partnerships within and
outside the university.
Investigate issues and problems pertaining to administration of agricultural research,
M Evaluation of alternative methods for determining agricultural research priori-
ties for different levels and mixes of resources.
Performance of alternative systems in obtaining feedback information from
Methods for determining the appropriate mixes of problem-solving, subject-
matter, and disciplinary efforts within and across institutions.
Performance of alternative faculty reward systems in sustaining multidiscipli-
nary subject-matter and practical problem-solving as well as disciplinary research.
Evaluation of alternative strategies to maintain flexible options in the funding
and administration of research, extension, resident instruction, and other activi-
ties, and organizations.
Assessment of alternative strategies for generating public support for rural and
basic disciplinary social, biological, and physical science research.
SSAAP'S MORE DETAILED AND SPECIFIC
The administrative and funding challenges of the above ten agendas cannot be effectively met by the
administrators of the rural and basic social sciences without assistance from the rural and social
scientists they administer. SSAAP explicitly recognizes that the multidisciplinarity of practical problem-
solving and subject-matter work creates enormous administrative burdens in connection with defining
problems and issues, designing multidisciplinary programs and projects, funding, administering, inter-
acting iteratively with clienteles, evaluating problem-solving and subject-matter as well as discipli-
nary work, and communicating results to users. The rather specific interrelated strategies below
supplement the broader strategies stressed earlier in this summary. The detailed strategies fall into two
categories, the first for administrators and the second for rural and basic social scientists.
SPECIFIC CHALLENGES FOR ADMINISTRATORS: As indicated in its first pages, this
executive summary is structured around broad strategies SSAAP believes are needed to improve
the capacity and effectiveness of the rural social sciences in serving farmers, agribusinesses, con-
sumers, and nonfarm rural residents. In this section, administrators are challenged in more specific
ways than in the broad overall challenges presented at the beginning of this summary. SSAAP
believes it is important for administrators to:
Develop administrative flexibility in utilizing a wide variety of organizational models
to carry out missions involving the work of the rural and basic social sciences on the
problems and issues of rural societies and agriculture.
Recognize that administrative needs increase as the proportion of an administrative unit's
multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter efforts increases relative to its
Use and encourage entrepreneurially inclined professionals to define problems and issues,
develop projects and programs, mobilize resources, and conduct short-term multidis-
ciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter efforts.
Increase budget flexibility for pursuing critical new problem-solving and subject-matter
M aggressively seeking "soft money" for current problems and issues,
M using proportionately more short-term contractual, nontenured professionals, and
even by withholding some percentage of a unit's "hard money" to be "earned"
by those in the unit who are willing to address new, critical, multidisciplinary
problems and subjects.
* Increase planning for research, resident instruction, extension, and public service, with
stress on important current practical problems and issues, while leaving finance to follow
rather than to determine plans of work.
* Require the training of new and the retraining of some existing administrators and "work-
ing professionals" to make them more aware of the:
Important differences between disciplinary and multidisciplinary problem-solving
and subject-matter work.
Great differences in needs, characteristics, and relevant capabilities of the various
disciplines, applied fields, and units for which they are responsible. This includes
recognizing the important differences that exist between the needs of rural social
scientists and those of the technical biological and physical agricultural scien-
tists for office space, assistants, computers, secretaries, etc.
* Rethink, reorganize, and rebalance administrative processes so that the priorities coming
to the fore are based on careful consideration of not only the biological and physical
but also the social science dimensions of problems and issues. This requires that social
scientists be routinely involved in the planning and execution of problem-solving and
subject-matter programs and projects.
* Establish advisory groups of qualified rural and basic disciplinary social scientists in
governmental agencies, colleges, and other primary administrative units of the public,
parastatal, or private-sector institutions that are concerned with agriculture and rural
society to help ensure that the rural and basic social sciences are funded, used, and
administered so that social scientists can
make appropriate contributions to multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-
matter efforts while
bringing about the advances in the basic social science disciplines that are needed
for the improvement of farming, agribusinesses, consumer well-being, and rural
* Restore and increase promotion, salary adjustment, and recognition credit for problem-
solving and subject-matter publications in agricultural experiment stations, extension
services, and other agencies by recognizing that such work can be of high quality and
reflect scholarly objectivity and excellence. Similar recognition should be extended for
"quality" television, radio, teaching, oral presentations, advising, and consulting to
serve the various clienteles of our agricultural institutions.
* Develop closer research, teaching, extension, and other linkages (1) between the rural
social sciences and the basic social science disciplines and (2) between the rural and
basic social sciences and the basic and agricultural biological and physical sciences.
* Develop closer linkages for cooperation:
M Among land-grant universities within regions.
Between the 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities to address the problems of
disadvantaged rural farm and nonfarm African-Americans.
Between both land-grant and non-land-grant universities and disadvantaged
Hispanic, Native American, and Caucasian peoples and their organizations.
Among university social science research and teaching programs, government
agencies with agricultural and rural missions, and other agencies with substan-
tial social science capability.
Of rural social science departments with biological and physical agricultural
science departments and related groups, such as professional associations;
industry/commodity groups; farm and rural organizations and leaders; natural
resource, food, and environmental groups; and national, state, and local
Between the rural social science associations and the national policy- and priority-
setting organs of the USDA/land-grant system.
Of the rural social sciences with the primary international-, national-, and state-
level organizations important to science funding and science policy.
Strengthen the roles of the rural and basic social sciences in international organizations
such as the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and various
regional development banks.
Develop a stable U.S. institutional system and program to encourage and fund sus-
tained, coordinated, and carefully evaluated efforts by rural and basic social sciences
working with the biological and physical agricultural sciences on problems and sub-
jects germane to agriculture and rural society in developing nations. This is necessary
U.S. efforts are now generated and financed largely in an ad hoc manner using
"soft monies" from U.S. government agencies such as USAID, foundations,
and international organizations.
We are rapidly losing much of our present social science capabilities for inter-
national work, especially in universities, because we are now failing to replace
the retiring cohort of social scientists that has worked on farm and rural problems
of developing countries.
It should be pointed out that the first nine of the substantive agendas presented earlier make still
more specific, detailed demands on administrators that are not included here but should not be
ignored. In this connection, see Part V, Chapter 8, of SSAAP's book.
SPECIFIC CHALLENGES FOR SOCIAL SCIENTISTS: These challenges are for both basic
and rural social scientists whose support and administrative help is needed by administrators in
defining and clarifying practical problems and issues, in designing multidisciplinary subject-matter
and problem-solving programs and projects, in obtaining funding, in evaluating rural and basic
social science work, and in communicating results of social science efforts. In order to execute
the administrative and funding strategies and ensure effective use of SSAAP's agendas, rural and
basic social scientists are challenged to:
Seek and accept long-term administrative positions in academia, government, parastatals,
and the private sector so that the rural and basic social sciences can be better represented
in public, parastatal, academic, and private administrative and executive circles.
Serve on administrative committees in our agricultural institutions to further multi-
disciplinary subject-matter and problem-solving research, teaching, extension, advisory,
administrative, and consultative work.
Recognize the importance and value of problem-solving and subject-matter work for
the many different clienteles of our agricultural institutions.
Facilitate contributions of basic social science disciplinarians to:
The multidisciplinary problem-solving and subject-matter work of our agricul-
tural and rural institutions.
Overcoming the deficiencies of their disciplines for the problem-solving and
subject-matter work of our agricultural institutions.
Serve as "entrepreneurs" in developing problem-solving and subject-matter work in
such presently neglected areas as human capital formation, assistance to disadvantaged
farm and nonfarm rural groups, institutional ("rules of the game," policy, program,
organizational, and infrastructural) improvements, natural and manmade resource
enhancements, and technical advance.
Accept temporary administration responsibilities for multidisciplinary problem-solving
and subject-matter projects and programs.
Press for funding of:
Work on the social science dimensions of the multidisciplinary subject-matter
and problem-solving work in our agricultural institutions.
Competitive grants for the basic social science disciplines to help them over-
come the disciplinary deficiencies that constrain work on farm and rural problems
Endeavor to broaden their own philosophic orientations and those of their administra-
tors to facilitate work with values in doing subject-matter and prescriptive problem-
solving work for farmers and their families, rural people and societies, agribusinesses,
and the consumers of food, fiber, and resource products and services.
MEETING THE CHALLENGES
Social scientists and their administrators have it within their means to meet the challenges presented
by SSAAP's agendas and, in so doing, to greatly increase the contributions of our agricultural
institutions to farmers and their families, rural people and societies, agribusinesses, and consumers
of food, fiber, and natural resource commodities and services.
The required reorientation will not be expensive to carry out.
Mobilization of the will to reorient and execute the needed changes need not be
* Further, attaining some of the agendas presented herein will increase the effectiveness
with which present resources are used.
* In turn, greater effectiveness in addressing problems and issues will facilitate the mobili-
zation of additional resources and overall general support for our agricultural institutions.
* Finally, the recommended reorientation will enable social scientists to earn more
resources with which to execute their responsibilities as outlined in SSAAP's agendas.
Social Science Agricultural Agendas and Strategies
600 pages, Bibliography and Index, 8 1/2" x 11"
Please send: copies at $20.00 each plus $5.00 shipping and handling (Michigan residents add 4% sales tax)
City State Zip Code
Check enclosed made payable to Michigan State University Press for the amount of $
Charge to my VISA MasterCard
Account No. Expiration Date
Return to: Michigan State University Press
1405 S. Harrison Rd., 25 Manly Miles Building, East Lansing, MI 48823-5202
Telephone: (517) 355-9543 or FAX 1 (800) 678-2120
Social Science Agricultural Agendas and Strategies
600 pages, Bibliography and Index, 8 1/2" x 11"
Please send:_ copies at $20.00 each plus $5.00 shipping and handling (Michigan residents add 4% sales tax)
City State Zip Code
Check enclosed made payable to Michigan State University Press for the amount of $
Charge to my VISA MasterCard
Account No. Expiration Date
Return to: Michigan State University Press
1405 S. Harrison Rd., 25 Manly Miles Building, East Lansing, MI 48823-5202
Telephone: (517) 355-9543 or FAX 1 (800) 678-2120
Putting the Puzzle Together Requires-
Balanced Tmproiemenis To Serve
in Four Sources of Progress:
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