Lecture 2, 5/24

In this class, we will discuss foundational theories of technology and of development that will offer us a way to understand the role of technology in development projects. In the first part of the lecture, we will ask what constitutes technology. While development institutions frequently refer to technology and ICTs as an entity with generalized impact, we will spend our time in the course breaking down the concept. We will consider technology broadly as artifacts, systems, and as techniques. We will take a brief look at popular frameworks of understanding technologies and also discuss at greater length the idea of technological determinism. In the second half, we will discuss the idea of development. Since many discussions of how technology might be applied to alleviate poverty draw implicitly on theories of growth or development, in this lecture, we will point to key approaches, including modernization vs. dependency theories, neoliberalism and new institutionalism.

Please take a look at the three required readings for this class.

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Lecture 1, 5/22

In this introductory class, we will lay out some of the important themes and concepts of this course. We will focus on discussions about the role of technology in poverty alleviation, examining the ways in which these discussions have changed and how they have remained the same in the past five decades or so. In particular, we will discuss two key threads that come into play in discussions of technology and poverty: the spectrum between technological and social determinism (does technology drive society or does society drive technology); and that between social structure and agency (are people’s actions determined by existing social structures or do their actions determine social structures). We will discuss why these threads are useful to follow and how they will help us frame our discussions of various technologies and their use by the poor. We will also discuss the course outline, schedule, readings, assignments, and logistics.

Please take a look at the two required readings listed for this class.

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