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Empowerment instead of Development: An outline of an analytical concept for the study of ICTs in the global South
Malmö University, Faculty of Culture and Society (KS), School of Arts and Communication (K3). Malmö University, Faculty of Culture and Society (KS), Medea. Malmö University, Data Society.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5097-6218
2018 (English)In: Handbook of Communication for Devlopment and Social Change / [ed] Jan Servaes, Springer, 2018, p. 1-19Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This chapter turns to the concept of “empowerment” as a result of disenchantment with the concept of “development” in the study of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social change in the global South. It is a certainty that the proliferation of ICTs (mobile phones in particular) has opened up a range of possibilities and new avenues for individuals, aid agencies, and NGOs. However, overviews of communication supposedly for development reveal a field based on economic understandings of development biased toward techno-determinism. Moreover, these understandings lack sufficient critique and do not take larger contextual factors into account. Therefore, it is argued that empowerment is a better concept to draw upon in the critical study of ICTs and social change. However, empowerment is not an easy concept to define, and no analytical outline of the concept has been found in the existing body of literature. Addressing this lack, this chapter will trace the roots of empowerment in community psychology and in feminist and black power movements as well as explore different understandings of the concept from various disciplines. From this overview, the chapter suggests that empowerment should be studied on a) an intersectional level, b) a contextual level, c) an agency level, and d) a technological level. It further argues that these four levels intersect and must be studied in tandem to understand whether processes of empowerment are taking place, and if so, in what ways? The chapter ends by shortly applying these levels to a study involving market women’s use of mobile phones in Kampala.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2018. p. 1-19
Keywords [en]
Affordances, Capability, Critical consciousness, Development, Empowerment, ICTs, Opportunity structures, Situatedness
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-9263DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10-7035-8_43-1Local ID: 26029ISBN: 978-981-10-7035-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-9263DiVA, id: diva2:1406295
Available from: 2020-02-28 Created: 2020-02-28 Last updated: 2021-09-09Bibliographically approved

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Svensson, Jakob

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