A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy

Abstract

The Internet is often promoted as an essential development strategy in both rich and poor countries, able to liberate economic information from its geographic constraints, and benefit the world’s poor by removing intermediaries between producers of goods in poor countries and consumers in rich countries. This chapter examines this possibility through a case study of Internet use in the Thai silk industry, where the producers of silk have traditionally received very little of the value of their fabric. Drawing on interviews to examine the tensions between the expected and observable effects of the Internet, this chapter shows how discourses about the transformative potentials of ICTs can have the dual effect of encouraging impractical investments of resources while simultaneously driving many useful projects and practices that would otherwise not occur. The chapter argues that research needs to help refine the assumptions that underpin the expectations tied to ICTs in low-income countries.

Citation

Graham, M. A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy. In: Graham, M.; Dutton, W.H. (Eds.), Society and the Internet. Oxford University Press, (2014) 301-316. ISBN 9780199661992 [DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661992.003.0020]

A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy

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