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Agricultural EnlightenmentKnowledge, Technology, and Nature, 1750-1840$
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Peter M. Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716075.001.0001

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Diffusion in Practice

Diffusion in Practice

Emulation and Innovation

(p.82) 4 Diffusion in Practice
Agricultural Enlightenment

Peter M. Jones

Oxford University Press

Did the growing supply of agricultural knowledge in the second half of the eighteenth century reach practising farmers? If so, how was it combined in the activities of the rural economy with tacit knowledge and ‘know-how’? These questions are tackled in Chapter 4. Many historians argue that Agricultural Enlightenment was less the achievement of named individuals and well-known innovations, than of anonymous cultivators making adjustments and improvements to their practices on a trial-and-error basis. Others would emphasize the push–pull effects of the marketplace when accessing the capacity for growth in the rural economy. The role of the ‘farm-gate’ as an effective route to agricultural improvement should not be overlooked, but nor should the role played by ‘institutions’ whether markets, or the legal-political interventions of governments. Agricultural knowledge often reached farmers indirectly. In this context, the capacity of the Enlightenment reflex of ‘emulation’ to bring about agricultural change is emphasized.

Keywords:   innovation, diffusion, urban demand, tacit knowledge, institutions, emulation

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