Social Enterprise to Mobiles – The Curious Case of a Propped up ICTD Theory

Title: Social Enterprise to Mobiles – The Curious Case of a Propped up ICTD Theory
Author: Anita Gurumurthy
Source: Publius Project
Publisher: Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Date (published): 17/09/2009
Date (accessed): 05/10/2009
Type of information: essay
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Appropriating the tremendous potential of new ICTs for meeting development challenges requires a sound theoretical basis – drawing from the social theories of ICTs and connecting them to the experience and values of development thought and practice. However, the dominant ICTD discourse has, in its steadfast loyalty to techno-determinism and neo-liberalism, largely adopted an atheoretical stance. It has unabashedly glossed over empirical evidence in not interrogating the failure of the social enterprise model both in ensuring sustainability and in meeting socio-economic goals in a manner that promotes equity. Instead, in an eternal search for new narratives aligned with market interests, ICTD has now chosen to deploy a watered down empiricism to over valorise the market-led mobile telephony model without critically examining its full implications for development practice and possibilities. By reposing firm faith in 'win-win' partnerships, ICTD practice has depoliticized development, recasting notions of the 'public' and of 'inclusion' in a corporatised rhetoric of the 'user community' and the 'poor at the bottom-of-the-pyramid', respectively.

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