Technologies of Choice?

Technologies of Choice?: ICTs, Development, and the Capabilities Approach

Dorothea Kleine
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhkdz
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  • Book Info
    Technologies of Choice?
    Book Description:

    Information and communication technologies (ICTs)--especially the Internet and the mobile phone--have changed the lives of people all over the world. These changes affect not just the affluent populations of income-rich countries but also disadvantaged people in both global North and South, who may use free Internet access in telecenters and public libraries, chat in cybercafes with distant family members, and receive information by text message or email on their mobile phones. Drawing on Amartya Sen's capabilities approach to development--which shifts the focus from economic growth to a more holistic, freedom-based idea of human development--Dorothea Kleine in Technologies of Choice? examines the relationship between ICTs, choice, and development. Kleine proposes a conceptual framework, the Choice Framework, that can be used to analyze the role of technologies in development processes. She applies the Choice Framework to a case study of microentrepreneurs in a rural community in Chile. Kleine combines ethnographic research at the local level with interviews with national policy makers, to contrast the high ambitions of Chile's pioneering ICT policies with the country's complex social and economic realities. She examines three key policies of Chile's groundbreaking Agenda Digital: public access, digital literacy, and an online procurement system. The policy lesson we can learn from Chile's experience, Kleine concludes, is the necessity of measuring ICT policies against a people-centered understanding of development that has individual and collective choice at its heart.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30551-8
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Moving ICT4D toward People, toward Choice
    (pp. 1-16)

    Technology affects lives. For those of us who, over the last decades, have gained access to new information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones and the Internet, these technologies have played a key role in changes in the way we live. Insofar as development has to do with change, it is thus not surprising that ICTs have come to the attention of scholars and practitioners working on development, in a new area of study: information and communication for development (ICT4D). Yet it is perhaps startling that after more than a decade of debate on new ICTs and development,...

  5. 2 Applying the Capabilities Approach to ICT4D
    (pp. 17-54)

    Development studies has always been a wide-ranging interdisciplinary endeavor, carried out by individuals who have had their own implicit or explicit views as to what they have understood by the term “development.” To name but one dimension, development can be understood as an outcome or a process. This chapter lays out the vision of development underlying the analysis in this book—a vision that is aligned with the people-centered ethos of the capabilities approach and which views development as a process requiring systemic analysis.

    The aim in this chapter is also to translate the theoretical richness of the capabilities approach...

  6. 3 Technologies in Context: Introducing Algun
    (pp. 55-84)

    Information and communication are socially rooted expressions of self, and the related technologies have to be seen in a socially embedded, holistic, systemic, and multidirectional way. This perspective needs to take into account the historical paths of social adoption of different kinds of ICTs. Performances and understandings of ICT access and use are also constituted through the sociospatial relations that shape the off-line spaces of access (Holloway & Valentine, 2001). Thus, it is important to pay attention to the historical and spatial context in which state ICT interventions, and the related performances of ICT use, are taking place. This chapter...

  7. 4 State ICT Policies in Practice: Telecenters
    (pp. 85-128)

    The Agenda Digital changed Chile. As a comprehensive national ICT policy, it meant that public money was systematically invested so that the structural changes brought about by new technologies would be leveraged for advances in a number of areas, including education, efficient government, economic development, and poverty reduction. Extending access to ICTs and particularly the Internet to all Chileans was fundamental to this agenda, and the specific action line within the agenda focusing on telecenters represented the strong concern over access and digital inclusion. Telecenters were new institutions, set up with the potential to disrupt existing structural inequalities and improve...

  8. 5 Meeting People: Agency, Resources, and Media Usage
    (pp. 129-162)

    Previous chapters have discussed the complex local context into which state ICT policies were introduced and have outlined the structural conditions into which they were embedded. This chapter focuses on how individuals use their agency, based on their resources, to negotiate these structural conditions. According to the logic of the capabilities approach, they do so based on their own capabilities set and by achieving some chosen outcomes. In some cases, they succeed in overcoming the structural barriers described in the chapters so far.

    Chapter 3 has analyzed the structural conditions of the availability as well as affordability of phone and...

  9. 6 State ICT Policies in Practice: E-procurement
    (pp. 163-200)

    Social structures frame people’s agency, but these structures are also created and reshaped by this very agency. The individuals portrayed in the previous chapter have shown in impressive ways how relatively income-poorer people can use resources of the poor to successfully negotiate and overcome some structural barriers. This chapter offers an example of one barrier that the individuals, in their role as supplier to the state, were unable to overcome on their own: they were hoping to gain access to the public e-procurement system and then successfully compete in it.

    Yet as we have seen, and will consider further in...

  10. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 201-218)

    This study has offered an opportunity to apply the choice framework as a way to operationalize the conceptual richness of the capabilities approach and, in turn, apply it to a concrete case of how microentrepreneurs in rural Chile were affected by state ICT policies. The hope is to show how the choice framework acts as a bridge connecting rich insights from ethnographic work with the everyday decisions of policymakers and practitioners working on ICT and development. This final chapter will draw out what has been learned from this process, both in theoretical and practical terms.

    The choice framework (figure 7.1)...

  11. Appendix: Methodology
    (pp. 219-228)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 229-234)
  13. References
    (pp. 235-250)
  14. Credits
    (pp. 251-252)
  15. Index
    (pp. 253-268)