Representing Participation in ICT4D Projects

J. P. Singh, Mikkel Flyverbom

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    How do the discourses of participation inform deployment of information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D)? Discourses here mean narratives that assign roles to actors, and specify causes and outcomes for events. Based on the theory and practice of international development we identify two dimensions to participation and ICT4D: whether participation 1) is hierarchical/top-down or agent-driven/bottom-up, and 2) involves conflict or cooperation. Based on these dimensions we articulate four ideal types of discourse that permeate ICT and development efforts: stakeholder-based discourses that emphasize consensus, networked efforts among actors collaborating in network arrangements, mobilization discourses that account for contestation over meanings of participation, and oppositional discourses from ׳grassroots׳ actors that also include conflict. We conclude that ICT4D efforts, depending on the context of their implementation, are permeated by multiple discourses about participation. Our four ideal types of participation discourses are, therefore, useful starting points to discuss the intricate dynamics of participation in ICT4D projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalTelecommunications Policy
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)692-703
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • ICT4D
    • Participatory development
    • Development discourse
    • Developing world
    • Information infrastructure

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