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Measuring Malnutrition: Technical Problems and Ideological Perspectives
Philip Payne and Peter Cutler
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 19, No. 34 (Aug. 25, 1984), pp. 1485-1487, 1489-1491
Published by: Economic and Political Weekly
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41625648
Page Count: 6
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There is just now a particularly fierce and wide-ranging dispute about the nature and extent of malnutrition in the developing world. The conflictis only partly aboutthe statisticalbasis ofthe quantification of the malnourished. To a much greater extent it is due to the fact that the various opponents take their stands upon the basis of fundamentally different theoretical frameworks — often, it seems, without any consciousness of that fact. Like many other groups of natural scientists, nutritionists have been slow to assimilate the implications of the developments in the history and philosophy of science which, during the last decade or so, have indicated the connections between scientific theory and social ideology, and which have given insights into the nature of the processes through which théories are developed and tested. The purpose of this paper is to try to show that if we want to assess the current state of knowledge and controversy in nutrition, then it is as important to understand the nature of the social and political context within which any particular theory has arisen, as it is to judge the technical quality of the data and the criteria which have been used to test it.
Economic and Political Weekly © 1984 Economic and Political Weekly