Seed Technologies

Gender and Social Impacts of Institutional Arrangements for Improved Seed Technologies

Project Summary

New seed technologies are promoted as a vital part of meeting the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population, yet very little is known about equity of access to seed in community seed systems. The first aim of this project is to survey the various institutions involved in the introduction of new seed technologies for rice, a major subsistence crop. Although studies describe specific seed distribution systems in specific nations/regions, there is no systematic database of the diverse institutional arrangements for seed distribution globally. The second aim is to assess the impacts of these different institutional arrangements for seed distribution in terms of the following criteria: (1) breadth of new seed technology adoption, (2) degree of social conflict over those technologies, (3) impacts on gender, and (4) impacts on small farmers.

The research team sent one member to India in Fall 2014 to collect preliminary data and establish contacts, and compiled the policies and laws on seed breeding and certification. Field-level data collection helped in their work toward creating a database of institutional arrangements for rice seed technologies in Asia; this will become publicly available online. The team is also combining the survey of the literature with field level data on two cases for comparing institutional arrangements for distributing seed technologies in India, a nation with a long history of controversy and experimentation over delivering new seed technologies to farmers.

Principal Investigator Bio:

Mangala Subramaniam Associate Professor of Sociology

Mangala Subramaniam has authored and co-authored articles in journals such as: International Sociology, Feminist Criminology, Critical Sociology, Mobilization, and Gender & Society. Her monograph, The Power of Women's Organizing: Gender, Caste, and Class in India (2006) focuses on the women’s movement in India with specific attention to dalit women’s organizing. Her co-edited volumes include: Dowry: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice, 2009 (with Tamsin Bradley and Emma Tomlin) and The Power of Women’s Informal Networks: Lessons in Social Change from South Asia and West Africa, 2004 (with Bandana Purkayastha). She is currently working on a book on social movements (local, national and transnational contexts) forthcoming through Cambridge University Press. Her ongoing research projects focus on (1) organizational dynamics (including state agencies) in the dissemination of information about HIV/AIDS in India and (2) career trajectories in the veterinary medicine profession in the US (examining the feminization and the lack of racial/ethnic diversity) with an interdisciplinary group of scholars. Mangala mentors undergraduate and graduate students. She teaches the required research methods course at the graduate level, the undergraduate gender course, and Global Social Movements, a new undergraduate sociology course she developed through a grant. Her recent graduate course offering is sociology of gender. She has presented papers at international conferences in Budapest (Hungary), Brisbane (Australia), Accra (Ghana), and Tokyo (Japan).


Mangala Subramaniam
Associate Professor of Sociology
Marianne Bracke
Associate Professor of Library Science
Mary Dugan
Associate Professor of Library Science
Joan Fulton
Associate Department Head and Professor of Agricultural Economics
Dawn Marsh
Associate Professor of History
Leigh Raymond
Professor of Political Science, Director of Center for the Environment, University Scholar

Policies for Progress Conference Presentation (10/29/15)