Warped Geographies of Development: The Internet and Theories of Economic Development
Geography Compass, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 771-789, 2008
19 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2009
Date Written: October 8, 2008
The Internet is frequently touted as the engine of a new revolution that can eliminate poverty and bring prosperity to producers of crafts and commodities in economically impoverished areas of the world. ‘E-Commerce’, ‘Commodity chains’, the ‘digital divide’, and ‘disintermediation’ are all inherently geographical ideas, as well as being integral components to many theories of economic development. However, despite a movement by geographers to recognize the nuanced relationships between the Internet and geography, such ideas have remained largely absent from much development discourse. By reviewing writing on geographical concepts such as ‘commodity chains’, the ‘digital divide’, ‘disintermediation’, and ‘e-commerce’ within the contexts of contemporary debates about development, this paper highlights some of the geographic assumptions wrapped up in a range of theories of development and shows how these spatial assumptions matter. The paper concludes by reflecting on alternate geographic metaphors that could be employed within development discourse to better express the complicated and spatially contingent relationships between ICTs, geography, and economic development.
Keywords: international trade, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), networks, globalization, poverty, technology, neoliberalism, internet, development, ICT, disintermediation
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