May 28 2013 12:30pm to May 28 2013 12:30pm

Technologies of Choice? – ICTs, development and the capabilities approach

Dr. Dorothea Kleine, Director of the ICT4D Centre, RHUL

May 28, 12:30pm ET
Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor

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.

Discussant: Dr Nancy Hafkin (formerly UN Economic Commission for Africa)

About Dorothea

Dorothea Kleine is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Director of the interdisciplinary ICT4D Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2013 the Centre was named among the top 10 global think tanks in science and technology (U of Penn’ survey of experts, 2013) and has a highly recognised PhD and Masters programme in ICT for development. Dorothea’s work focuses on the relationship between notions of “development”, choice and individual agency, sustainability, gender and technology. She has published widely on these subjects, and has worked as an advisor to UNICEF, UNEP, EUAid, DFID, GIZ and to NGOs. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the IBG). Dorothea will be discussing her new book, Technologies of Choice: ICTs, development and the capabilities approach  (MIT Press 2013). 

Dr. Nancy J. Hafkin has been working on ICTs in Africa and other developing areas, with particular emphasis on gender, for more than three decades. At the UN Economic Commission for Africa she established the Program to Promote IT in Africa and developed the African Information Society Initiative. Nancy has written widely on IT, gender and international development. In 2000 the Association for Progressive Communications established the annual Nancy Hafkin Communications Prize competition for innovative communication projects in Africa. In 2012 she was in the first group of honorees inducted into the Internet Society Hall of Fame, in the category of “Global Connectors.”


Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Copyright License: 
Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported

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Last updated date

January 31, 2015