ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Donald W AttwoodSubscribe to Donald W Attwood

How I Learned To Do Incorrect Research

In 1969, the author started fi eld research on rural poverty in western India. He began as a dependency theorist, but the villagers taught him to rethink his assumptions. He discovered that villagers (even landless labourers) have agency in their own lives and that the cumulative weight of their decisions and actions could reshape regional and national policy in the colonial and post-colonial periods. He found that growing an expensive cash crop does not impoverish small farmers. These discoveries went contrary to conventional wisdom, contrary to a strong consensus among social scientists around the world, contrary to the teachings of Marx, Lenin, and big-name dependency theorists. Despite his confi dence in the data, he needed a reality check. How could he test whether he had misunderstood the lessons from the villagers?
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