The tools of social change: A critique of techno-centric development and activism

Paper by Jan Servaes and Rolien Hoyng in New Media and Society: “Generally, the literatures on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and on networked resistance are evolving isolated from one another. This article aims to integrate these literatures in order to critically review differences and similarities in the techno-centric conceptions of agency and social change by political adversaries that are rooted in their socio-technical practices. We repurpose the critique of technological determinism to develop a multi-layered conception of agency that contains three interrelated dimensions: (1) “access” versus “skill” and the normative concept of inclusion; (2) fixed “system” versus “open-ended network” and savoir vivre; and (3) “institution” versus “extra-institutional network” and political efficacy. Building on our critique, we end by exploring the political possibilities at the intersections of conventional institutions or communities and emerging, extra-institutional networked formations…(More)”