A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy
Graham, M. 2014. A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy. In Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing our Lives, eds M. Graham and W. H. Dutton. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 301-318
16 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 10, 2014
Information and communication technologies shape economic spaces, transactions, and relationships, and are often promoted as an essential development strategy in both rich and poor countries. But development strategies often rest on very particular understandings of the ways in which ICTs transform and shape economic relationships. Drawing on Asian and African case studies, this chapter first analyses some of the most common expectations associated with networked connections in low-income countries. It then places those expectations within the contexts of observable economic effects of ICTs in disadvantaged parts of the world. By drawing on a rich set of interviews and examining the tensions between expected and observable effects of ICTs, this chapter shows how discourses about the transformative potentials of ICTs actively shape the ways that development is enacted in low-income countries. Unrealistic and deterministic expectations interestingly have the dual effect of encouraging impractical investments of resources while simultaneously driving many useful projects and practices that would otherwise not occur. This chapter concludes by arguing that by deconstructing and working to refine assumptions that underpin the expectations of transformative effects of ICTs in low-income countries, we will be able to more accurately envision the potentials for new types of ICT-based development.
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