Can ICTs contribute to transforming the fundamental relationships of power and privilege that constrain development? What changes to development practice are required to enable the effective use of ICT by marginalised people in authoring and actualising their own development? Can people use ICTs to build critical consciousness and political agency?
These are difficult questions, that need to be asked and discussed. They are hard, and not so easy to, let say, find a “proper response”, but they still need to be asked, and we do need to try to get some response!
Together with my colleague and friend, Tony Roberts, we are organising an Open Session at ICTD 2013 Cape Town. It is called Appropriating ICTs for Developing Critical Consciousness and Structural Social Change.
If you oppose to our ideas or support them, or simply if you are curious, please join us this Tuesday 10th, at 9.00am, at Kramer Building, room 4A.
To know a little bit more about this session, please continue reading. The text below is the full description of the session.
Appropriating ICT for Developing Critical Consciousness and Political Change
Organisers and their Institutional Affiliations:
Sammia Poveda – Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Roberts – Royal Holloway, University of London
Jennifer Radloff – APC Women’s Programme, South Africa
Mike Gurstein – Centre for Community Informatics, Canada (remotely)
Linda Raftree – Plan International, USA
We propose a moderated panel and audience discussion with online participation through the WebGathering.net electronic conferencing platform.
We intend a disruptive discussion about the potential for people to use technology in order to bring about structural social change. The discussion will ask whether we can use ICTs to raise critical consciousness to provoke political action to overcome the vested interests that constrain efforts toward development and social justice.
The topic, “Appropriating ICT for Developing Critical Consciousness and Political Change,” points to twofold discussion. On one hand we would like to discuss whether technology can be used by people to produce new knowledge and critical understanding about the social circumstances that both constrain and enable social change in order to stimulate and inform social action for beneficial change. On another hand, we would like to examine the relevance of critical counsciousness building, contextualised on the intersection of development practice, policy and culture/society, and how ICT could be relevant to this.
In a networked society (Castells) digital literacies become valued competences, but ‘counting women’ in computer training classes tells us little about their ability to make ‘effective use’ (Gurstein) of those abilities in producing lives that they have reason to value (Sen).
Too much ICT4D is top-down technology-push of foreign ‘solutions’. There is often little in the way of building real social and economic’ capacity (particularly for self/communally-initiated undertakings) and training predominately involves schooling in office applications. A critical pedagogy (Freire) for ICT4D would require a people-centred process in which the ‘objects’ of development become the ‘subjects’ of a process in which they were the authors, architects and actualisers of their own self-determined development.
A critical ICT4D would need to involve people in deliberation about the ends and means of development and the opportunities afforded by appropriating ICTs for those ends/means. Can a collective process of reflective self-evaluation be used to identify ‘problems’ and to design the ‘processes’ necessary to overcome these?
This open session will try to address these issues with the help of a group of panelists and the participants of the meeting. It will be organized in a Panel & Discussion format.
Our goals are:
• to inject a deeper political analysis into the ICT4D discourse
• to provoke a disruption of ‘development as usual’
• to provide some practical direction towards subject/subject relations in ICT4D
The session intends to provoke debate and reflection. In order to be inclusive, questions will reflect the multidisciplinarity and diversity of participants, considering different ICT4D sectors, private and public initiatives, as well as different regions of the world. Panelists’ experience and organisers’ research focuses will help to avoid concentrating the discussions only on specific territories. Participation will be crucial for the debate and will be encouraged by the moderators.