International Development Planning Review

A psychosocial analysis of development outcomes: a digital literacy case study in Myanmar

International Development Planning Review (2018), 40, (3), 273–297.

Abstract

Information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) research shows inconclusive impacts on human development. Some authors argue that impact can only be studied with a clear definition of development. This paper draws on the capabilities approach, critical pedagogy and critical psychosocial well-being to propose a way of defining and operationalising development, to study a digital literacy initiative in Myanmar. Results show that while participants do indeed improve their digital skills, internalised constraints, such as self-censorship and fear of authority, limit teachers’ and students’ behaviours during the training sessions, impacting how all related to information. The paper argues that ICT4D will benefit from an understanding of development that acknowledges the social and psychological well-being of individuals, and how these affect each other, enhancing or constraining individuals’ development. This acknowledgement may also bring some light to why many initiatives have failed to have the expected impacts, in particular in a long-term perspective.

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Poveda, Sammia