Track CUI - A Critical Understanding of ICT4D
Abstract: From a critical perspective ICT4D should be open to disadvantaged groups to appropriate technology to overcome structural deprivation, discrimination and (dis)advantage. However influential reviews of the field suggest that ICT4D is currently characterised by 'top-down', technologically-determined processes in which 'intended beneficiaries' are insufficiently involved, and where the relationship between ICT and development is treated uncritically. Using a theoretical framework combining the critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire, and the critical feminism of Ineke Buskens and the critical theory of Jürgen Habermas, this paper outlines a conceptual framework for critical intent and critical practice in ICT4D. The conceptual framework is illustrated by a ninefold typology of ICT4D initiatives, composed of three types of development intent: conformist, reformist and transformist, and three types of development practice: technical-control, communicative-understanding and critical-emancipation. The paper argues that an initiative is an example of critical ICT4D to the extent that it combines critical-emancipatory practice, with the transformist intent of overcoming the root-causes of under-development.