Questioning Development Industry Attention to Communication Technologies and Democracy

Karin Gwin Wilkins, Young-Gil Chae


The development industry is increasingly investing in global Communications technologies, assumed to offer critical resources in alleviating social problems. How development intervention conceptualizes and justifies the role of ICTs in the process of social change is explored through institutional descriptions of recent projects. This institutional discourse allows us to consider the underlying assumptions made about democratic reform. Our analytic categories include government management, market efficiency, transparent governance, surveillance, public sphere and praxis. This analysis is confined to projects that used ICTs in conjunction with goals pertaining to democracy and governance implemented since 2000, supported through USAID, World Bank, UNDP, and JICA. This discourse embodies a conception of democracy that suggests limited political processes, privileging of economic conditions, and marginalizing of civil society.

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