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The applicability of the major social science paradigms to the study of the agricultural knowledge and information systems of small-scale farmers

Hilda M Munyua
Christine Stilwell


The social sciences offer a rich array of paradigms within which to locate agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) research. This article provides an overview of the major paradigms in the social sciences, identifying those which offer a lens through which the AKISs of small-scale farmers can be viewed. It is based on a review and analysis of the paradigms, perspectives and approaches that are appropriate for studying different facets of an AKIS. These systems are complex by nature but Social constructivism, Phenomenology, Interpretive and Participatory paradigms make possible a pluralistic and compatibilist approach that provides the necessary logic and harmony for such a study. A systems approach, mixed methods methodology and multiple data collection methods can be used to improve understanding of AKISs of this type. A pragmatic paradigmatic stance is recommended to guide the design for a comprehensive study of the AKISs of small-scale farmers in developing countries.

Innovation No.44, June 2012