Monday, November 8, 2010

class and technology in history

Anything to give me a boost in confidence during these times of thesis writing! Here is Brenner talking about why technological determinism cannot explain social transformations. His argument is for power and the role it plays in bringing about the conditions for technological advance. The method is similar to saying "O.K., we have the economic conditions in place, but there are still political processes which need to occur in tandem with the economic in order to bring about change in the social system." At any rate, here it is: enjoy!
There were, in fact, known and available agricultural improvements -- including the ultimately revolutionary 'convertible husbandry' -- which could have brought significant improvements in demesne output. Indeed, as Professor Searle has recently demonstrated, fully-fledged convertible husbandry was systematically adopted on Battle Abbey's manor of Marley from the early fourteenth century. It is most significant that this manor consisted entirely of a single consolidated demesne (with no customary tenancies) and was farmed entirely on wage labour, marking a total break from feudal organization of production and class relations. ... Because these tenants were freeholders, Battle Abbey had not been able to increase its rents, although it had tried to do so.

Brenner, "Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development," Past and Present (1976)

1 comment:

  1. I disagree strongly here.
    Of course technological determinism cannot alone explain social transformations.
    That being said try to explain this interaction we are having here from a power framework. Sure it can be done...but wouldn't an internet based story make sense in a lot more theoretical frameworks.
    That of course raises the question that does counting how many different theories a statement appears true in somehow make that statement more valid?