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

Speaker  Dorothea Kleine

Affiliation  ICT4D Centre at Royal Holloway

Host  Mary Gray

Duration  00:57:28

Date recorded  31 July 2013

ICT for development (ICT4D) scholars claim that the internet, radio and mobile phones can support development. Yet the dominant paradigm of development as economic growth is too limiting to understand the full potential of these technologies. One key rival to such econocentric understandings is Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach to development – focusing on a pluralistic understanding of people’s values and the lives they want to lead. In her book, Technologies of Choice? (MIT Press 2013), Dorothea Kleine translates Sen’s approach into policy analysis and ethnographic work on technology adaptation. She shows how technologies are not neutral, but imbued with values that may or may not coincide with the values of users. The case study analyses Chile’s pioneering ICT policies in the areas of public access, digital literacy, and online procurement and the sobering reality of one of the most marginalised communities in the country where these policies play out. The book shows how both neoliberal and egalitarian ideologies are written into technologies as they permeate the everyday lives and livelihoods of women and men in the town. Technologies of Choice? examines the relationship between ICTs, choice, and development. It argues for a people-centred view of development that has individual and collective choice at its heart.

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