Nguyen, Quy-Hanh: Another epistemic culture : Reconstructing knowledge diffusion for rural development in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. - Bonn, 2014. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Quy-Hanh Nguyen}},
title = {Another epistemic culture : Reconstructing knowledge diffusion for rural development in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2014,
month = jul,

note = {In the age of “post-industrial society” and “knowledge economy,” how do agrarian communities in developing countries talk, think, and apply knowledge for their everyday life and production? Does a farmer become a “knowledge worker,” or are knowledge workers only scientists, experts, development practitioners, and agriculture managers? More generally, is there a culture that nurtures knowledge production processes among interactive actors and across traditional boundaries and niches? Globalisation has transformed the way knowledge is produced, transmitted, and applied, as research results from one part of the world are transmitted over long distances to users who need it for their development. A wide gap has often arisen between epistemic culture, the culture of knowledge production, and the social and cultural conditions in which knowledge is applied. This problem is by no means new, but it has taken on new dimensions and practices. Founded on constructivist perspectives of systems thinking and symbolic interactionism, this research scrutinises knowledge diffusion for rural development within the interaction of different types of knowledge, knowledge processes and the four knowledge systems of agricultural extension, research, agribusiness, and farming community in the Mekong Delta, the largest and most active agriculture region in Vietnam.
Placed in a broad analysis of the delta’s river and water civilisation (van minh song nuoc), modern hydraulic society developments and recent natural and social change impacts, the present research has revealed the duality of knowledge diffusion for agriculture and rural development in the Mekong Delta. The conventional model is still prominent in the knowledge diffusion landscape of the delta; researchers are knowledge producers, and agricultural extensionists and development experts are the main knowledge transfer agents of research results and technologies to rural residents as passive receivers. Sets of actors remain confined to their own life worlds, reading from their own scripts while farmers are perceived as passive knowledge and development receivers. The research has also illuminated a restructuration of knowledge diffusion from grassroots, informal, bottom-up efforts and networks conditioned on interactive environment, new identity of actors, and hybridity of knowledge work organisations. What is accentuated from multiple research case studies is that another epistemic culture of rural development is emerging. It is characterised by three principles of inclusionality, co-creation and reflexivity. Inclusionality promotes dynamic relational influences and co-evolutionary processes between nature and humans, environment and structure, community and individuals, knowledge source and receivers. The “I know better” fence that divides actors into the binarism of development experts-beneficiaries, knowledge source-passive receivers, and agencies with interest and knowledge work clashes is demolished. Co-creation relates to the active and creative participation of actors in development and knowledge development construction. Knowledge co-production can be formally performed in transdisciplinary research or everyday practice of collaborative informal grouping. It has to be built upon partnerships. Reflexivity refers to reflexive management of mega-knowledge in creating new knowledge at various levels of learning. Reflexivity creates opportunities for enhancement of conceptual readiness and effective implementation of innovation in more complicated and uncertain contexts of development as well as enrichment of local imaginings that potentially reshape and transform global issues and regimes.
Another epistemic culture of development is emerging with an increasingly important role to play in constructing knowledge for sustainable rural development practices in the Mekong Delta, yet it is often “hidden” from the mainstream development and knowledge for development landscapes. It is from the internalist reconstruction and transformation within reflective communities and hybrid knowledge developed from interaction and networking logic that the alternative epistemic culture is beginning to spring, and in this same orientation it should be promoted. Yet, in the vast ocean of knowledge and emerging islands of new epistemic practices, micro-to-macro knowledge governance has to bridge and breed knowledge-processes-based interaction and learning cultures among communities and networks. If not, distributed transformations of the described epistemic culture of development only fall into being marginalised, budding, and unstructured features of knowledge-based societal change projects and cannot effectively lead (to) rural development transformation.},

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