Faculty Publications

Title

Socioeconomic barriers to biogas development in rural southwest China: An ethnographic case study

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Biogas, China, Development, Technology adoption

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Human Organization

Volume

68

Issue

4

First Page

415

Last Page

430

Abstract

The household biogas system has a potential to offer significant health, economic, and environmental benefits to millions of households in rural China. In 1997, the Chinese legislature declared biogas as a national energy development agenda, and the Chinese government subsidies for biogas have been increasing since then. Nevertheless, only about 12 percent of rural households utilize biogas. In poor regions, the figure is much lower. At present, biogas counts for merely 1 percent of energy consumption in rural China. In this article, drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork, I examine the socioeconomic barriers to biogas development in rural Southwest China. My central question is: what are the factors that prevent farmers from utilizing biogas and how can development agencies help remove such barriers? Anchored in anthropological insights on technology adoption, this study first identifies main barriers to biogas adoption through a villagewide survey. Then, I examine such barriers in their socioeconomic contexts by participant observation and interviews with current biogas users in the village. The article concludes with recommendations for policy makers and agencies involved in biogas development in rural China and elsewhere in the world. Copyright © 2009 by the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Original Publication Date

12-1-2009

DOI of published version

10.17730/humo.68.4.y21mu5lt8075t881

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