Capabilities, Critique and ICTD


Zheng, Y. & Stahl, B.C. (2010). Capabilities, Critique and ICTD. Poster for the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development - ICTD2010, 13-16 December 2010. Egham: UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, Royal Holloway University of London.

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Type of work: Communication


Development | Digital Divide | ICT4D


ictd2010, capabilities


This paper explores what insights can be drawn from critical theory to enrich and strengthen Sen’s capability approach in relation to technology and human development. The two theories share some important commonalities: both are concerned with the pursuit of “a good life; both are normative theories rooted in ethics and meant to make a difference, and both are interested in democracy. The paper provides a brief overview of both schools of thought and their applications on technology and human development. Three areas are identified where critical theory can make a contribution: conceptually, providing a critical account of individual agency; enriching the concept of technology beyond the simplistic notion of goods and resources; and methodologically, sensitising towards reification and hegemony of scientific tools, and emphasising reflexivity of researchers.