Electronic Working Paper 19

(De)Politicizing Information Technology: Towards an Inclusionary Perspective

  • Dipankar Sinha - Professor of Political Science, Calcutta University
Abstract

Information Technology (IT) in/for development has become both a catch-all term and an attractive political slogan. In effect IT is hyped as a sort of 'magic wand' that is supposed to eradicate social deprivation and economic disparity almost instantaneously. Admittedly, IT has a key role in the construction of a better economy, society and empowerment of ordinary people in the developing countries. However, its uncritical promotion in communication about policy and political discourse –- without taking into account the social reality that exists in developing countries – is counter-productive. Politically, it enforces certain closures which also gives IT an ‘apolitical’ character, severely undermining diversity of opinions, the space for dissent and the need for democratic scrutiny, all of which are supposed to provide legitimacy for any public policy claiming to have problem-solving strategies. The paper – citing instances from south Asia and from Brazil for its innovative initiative in adopting an inclusionary path – asserts the need for concerted intervention by practitioners of the social sciences to expose and counter the politics of depoliticization that creep into the IT-centric imaginary of development.

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