International Development Planning Review

Agents of their own gratification: consumption as a blind-spot in technologically driven development strategies in Latin America

International Development Planning Review (2018), 40, (3), 329–348.

Abstract

A common understanding of the importance of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) insists on the transformative capability of ICTs through the empowerment of individuals, the role of technology as a multiplier of innovation and wealth creation, and the potential democratising effects of widespread device, service and data availability. However, in many cases implementations are based on a normative approach which assumes a set of benefits that are expected from ICT and Internet adoption, but which fail to consider the spillover effects of everyday uses of ICT including cultural consumption, familial and community linkages and the notion of a skewed public sphere.

This paper contrasts the normative approach to ICTD with the discourses on development as modernisation and democratisation (commonly argued in Latin American social and media studies) while addressing the role of media consumption as a driving force for ICT-adoption in the region. These contrasting perspectives highlight the need to debate the consequences of following a normative approach while facing social practices veering in a different direction.

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Villanueva-Mansilla, Eduardo