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Welfare, Agency and 'ICT for Development'

Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan and Savita Bailur

Abstract

This paper deconstructs the term “development” in “ICT for Development” – does it imply welfare or agency? Using a framework of individual capability expansion and social choice theory, we illustrate how these two approaches may conflict, and present a simple model to explore how sometimes the Provider's intention in providing an ICT artifact and the User's ultimate usage differ. We analyze our case studies of Our Voices and Hole in the Office against this and find that the User is likely to gain a tangible, immediate return on using agency-enhancing applications (particularly involving entertainment content), while the impact of welfare-enhancing applications is harder to achieve, given the complex contextual determinants of converting information on “potential” welfare outcomes to “actual” welfare gains. We recommend further research on the welfare-agency tension, and on assessing paternalism in “ICT for development” interventions.

Details

Publication typeInproceedings
Published inProc. of ICTD 2007
PublisherIEEE
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