Lecture 10, 6/19

Gender, Development, and Technology
Does technology have a gender? Does gender matter, when it comes to poverty and development projects? These are some of the questions that the student teaching team will discuss and present to the class today.

Required readings
– Burrell, J. (2010) “Evaluating Shared Access: social equality and the circulation of mobile phones in rural Uganda.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 15(2): 230-250.
– Oreglia, E. and Kaye, J. (2012) “A Gift from the City: Mobile Phones in Rural China.” Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 137-146.

Background readings
– VIDEO: Wallis, C. (2013) “Technomobility in China: Young Migrant Women and Mobile Phones in China.
– Cockburn, C. 1992. “The Circuit of Technology: Gender, identity and power.” In R. Silverstone and E.Hirsch(Eds) Consuming Technologies: Media and information in domestic spaces, pp. 32-47. London, Routledge.
– Kuriyan R. and K. Kirtner. 2009. “Constructing Class Boundaries: Gender, Aspiration and Shared Computing.” Information Technology and International Development 5(1): 17-29.

Other resources
– UNDP Gender Inequality Index

World Bank Gender Portal
UN Women

WISAT – Women in Global Science and Technology
AWID – Association for Women’s Rights in Development

Lecture 9, 6/17

Technology and Agriculture
The ILO estimates that one third of the world population works in agriculture. Today we take a broad look at how and where technology fits in agriculture and at some of the efforts that have been carried out to improve both yield and working conditions, as well as market and information access for farmers. We begin with a historical case: the Green Revolution in India, and we look at its short- and long-term consequences. In the second part of the lecture, we look at ‘thinking small’ versus ‘thinking big’ in agriculture, and at how mobile phones can be used to help small-hold farmers.

Required readings
– Parayil, G. “The Green Revolution in India: A Case Study of Technological Change.” Technology and Culture, Vol. 33 (1992), p. 737–756.
– Shiva, V. 1991. “The Green Revolution in Punjab.” The Ecologist, Vol. 21, No. 2.
– Jenny C. Aker, “Dial A for Agriculture: A Review of Information and Communication Technologies for Agricultural Extension in Developing Countries

Background readings
– NYTimes Articles – Farmer Suicides in Karnataka, India

Jensen, Robert. 2007. “The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122 (3): 879–924.

Burrell, J. & Oreglia, E. “The Myth of Market Price Information” (working paper)

Other resources
– resources on ICT and farming/market activities: Beyond Market Prices: Mobile Phones in Trade and Livelihood Activities in Ghana, Uganda, India, China

Lecture 8, 6/14

In this class, we will review the concepts we have learned so far, organizing a Pub Quiz of sorts. We will also do a workshop on the composition and delivery of presentations.

Lecture 7, 6/12

The Digital Divide
What is the “digital divide”, if at all there is such a thing? In this class, we will look at Keniston’s views regarding this divide, and the alternatives he offers for examining this phenomenon. We will then consider the example of the OLPC project, and see how it aims to resolve this ‘digital divide’. Our guest speaker for the day, Jen Schradie, will continue this discussion, drawing upon her own research findings.

Required readings
– Keniston, K. 2004. “Introduction: The Four Digital Divides.” in K. Keniston and R. Kumar (Eds) Experience in India: Bridging the Digital Divide, Sage Publications, p. 11-36.
– Gomez, R. 2013. “When You Do Not Have a Computer: Public-Access Computing in Developing Countries.” Information Technology for Development, 2013
– Schradie, J. 2012. “The Trend of Class, Race, and Ethnicity in Social Media Inequality: Who Still Cannot Afford to Blog?” Information, Communication & Society Vol. 15 No. 4.

Background readings
– Robinson, L. 2009. “A Taste for the Necessary.” Information, Communication & Society Vol. 12 No. 4.
– Yang, Y., et al. 2013. “Roots of Tomorrow’s Digital Divide: Documenting Computer Use and Internet Access in China’s Elementary Schools Today.” China & World Economy Vol. 21 No. 3.
– Warschauer, M. 2004. Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide. The MIT Press.

Lecture 6, 6/10

Thinking Small: A Bottom-Up Approach to Development
From the “top-down” approaches of the cases discussed so far, in this class we will shift to taking a “bottom-up” approach to understanding both technology and poverty. We will discuss the “appropriate technologies” movement in the wake of some of the consequences of large-scale, capital-intensive projects. This movement promoted a philosophy of accommodating indigenous cultures and producing benefits for the rural poor through direct access to ‘appropriate’ technologies.

Required readings
– Schumacher, E. F. 1973.”Buddhist Economics” and “Social and Economic Problems Calling for the Development of Intermediate Technology” In Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, pp. 50-59, 161-179. Harper and Row Publishers.
– Bilger, B. 2009. “Hearth Surgery. The Quest for a Stove that Can Save the World.” The New Yorker, December 21.
– 2012. “‘Clean cookstoves’ draw support, but they may not improve indoor air quality.” The Washington Post.
– Hans Rosling, The Magic of the Washing Machine.

Background readings
– Rogers, E. 1962, 2003. “Elements of Diffusion.” In Diffusion of Innovations. Free Press.
– The issue of ‘sustainable development’ raised in the UN’s Brundtland Report (Read chapters 1 and 2).
– Cowan, R. S. 1987. “The Consumption Junction: A Proposal for Research Strategies in the Sociology of Technology.” In W. E. Bijker, T. P. Hughes, & T. J. Pinch (Eds.), The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, pp. 261-280. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
– De Laet, Marianne and Annemarie Mol. (2000). “The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a Fluid Technology,” Social Studies of Science 30(2): 225–63
– Bornstein, D. 2007. “The Light in my Head Went On.” in How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. Oxford University Press. (p. 21-40)
– Srinivasan, J. 2012. “Looking beyond Information Provision: The importance of being a Kiosk Operator in the Sustainable Access In Rural India (SARI) Project, Tamilnadu.” Special Issue, Information Technologies & International Development Vol 8.

Lecture 5, 6/7

Thinking Big: Infrastructure and Development
Today’s lecture is about scale. Taking dams as an example of the “new kind of socio-technical system” described by Leo Marx in “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept,” we look at the role played by large and complex infrastructural projects in development, at the ideas behind them, and at the complex financing that made them possible. We discuss the consequences of such undertakings on the poor, and we introduce the topic of next lecture, i.e. the ‘rethinking’ of scale in a new kind of  development projects.

Required readings
– Smillie, I. 2000. “Chapter 3: The Best of the West: Thinking Big.” In Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology, pp. 35-48. Verlag.
– Mitchell, T. 1991. “America’s Egypt: Discourse in the Development Industry.” Middle East Report, pp.255-272.

Background readings
– Arp, H.P. and Baumgärtel, K. 2005. Case Study: The Consequences of the Akosombo Dam. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.
– Easterly, W. 2002. “Aid for Investment” in The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. MIT Press.

Other resources
– Polgreen, L. 2013. “Groups of Emerging Nations Plan to Form Development BankThe New York Times, and economist Dani Rodrik thoughts on the plan, “What the World Needs from the BRICS,” Project Syndacate.

Lecture 4, 6/5

Technology: A Brief History and Key Concepts
In today’s 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.

Required readings
– Marx, L. 1997. “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept” Social Research, Vol. 64, No. 3: 965-988.
– Winner, L. 1999. “Do Artifacts have Politics?” In D. Mackenzie and J. Wajcman (Eds.) The Social Shaping of Technology, pp. 28-40. Buckingham: Open University Press.
– Bijker, W. E. 2007. “Dikes and Dams, Thick with Politics.” Isis No. 98.
– Skim: Heilbroner, R. L. 1994. “Do Machines Make History?” In Merrit Roe Smith & Leo Marx (Eds) Does Technology Drive History?, pp. 53-65. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Background readings
– Bijker, W. 1997. “King of the Road: The Social Construction of the Safety Bicycle” in Bicycles, Bakelites and Bulbs. MA: MIT Press.
– World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Geneva Declaration of Principles.

Lecture 3, 6/3

Development: A Brief History and Key Concepts
In today’s lecture, we will continue our discussion on how poverty is defined and measured, and connect it to different concepts of ‘development’. We will briefly review the evolution of thinking about development from the post-II World War period to contemporary times, and discuss how the focus has changed from growth and GDP to a more holistic approach, well represented by the Millennium Development Goals.

Required readings
– Thomas, A. 2000. “Meanings and Views of Development” In T. Allen and A. Thomas (Eds) Poverty and Development: Into the 21st Century, pp. 23-48. Oxford University Press.
– Sen, A. 2001. “What is Development About?” In Meier, G. and J. Stiglitz (Eds) Frontiers of Development Economics: The Future in Perspective, 506-513. Oxford University Press.
– Skim: “Can Technology End Poverty” in Boston Review, November-December 2010.

Background readings
Ziai, A. 2013. “The Discourse of “Development” and Why the Concept Should be Abandoned” Development in Practice, Vol. 23 No. 1.
– Corbridge, S. 2007. “The (Im)possibility of Development Studies.” Economy and Society, Vol. 36 No. 2.
– James, J. 2001. “The Global Information Infrastructure Revisited.” Third World Quarterly Vol. 22 No. 5.

Other resources
UN website for the Millennium Development Goals
World Bank, Voices of the Poor documentary