Despite global economic disparities, recent years have seen rapid technological changes in developing countries, as it is now common to see people across all levels of society with smartphones in their hands and computers in their homes. However, does access to Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) actually improve the day-to-day lives of low-income citizens? This book argues that access to the internet can help alleviate poverty, improve development outcomes, and is now vital for realizing many human rights.
This book posits that good governance is essential to the realization of inclusive pro-poor development goals, and puts forward policy recommendations that aim to mitigate the complex digital divide by employing governance as the primary actor. In making his argument, the author provides a quantitative analysis of developing countries, conjoined with a targeted in-depth study of Mexico. This mixed method approach provides an intriguing case for how improvements in the quality of governance impacts both ICT penetration, and poverty alleviation. Overall, the book challenges the neoliberal deterministic perspective that the open market will "solve" technology diffusion, and argues instead that good governance is the lynchpin that creates conducive conditions for ICTs to make an impact on poverty alleviation. In fact, the digital divide should not be considered binary, rather it is a multifaceted problem where income, education, and language all need to be considered to address it effectively.
This book will be useful for researchers/students of development, communication technologies, and comparative politics as well as for development practitioners and policy makers with an interest in how modern technology is impacting the poor in the developing world.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
Chapter 1: Introduction: The ICT and Poverty Conundrum
Chapter 2: Theoretical Development: Enter Governance
Chapter 3: Quantitative Analysis: A Bird’s Eye View
Chapter 4: Case Study Mexico: Technological Bubbles and Blackholes
Chapter 5: Where Governance and Human Rights Meet: An Exploration of Mexico’s Constitutional Amendment Declaring Internet Access a Human Right
Chapter 6. Don’t be Evil: In the Digital Age Access to the Internet Should be a Human Right
Jack J. Barry is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Connecticut, USA
"Jack Barry has crafted an extremely important and timely work, one that sheds much-needed light on the multitude of ways ICTs can impact the lives of the poor. Supported by rich, in-depth case studies from Mexico, the book’s nuanced argument on the intervening role of governance contributes significantly to our understanding of the effectiveness of development policies." -- Oksan Bayulgen, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Connecticut, USA
"Jack Barry’s keen and thorough assessment of the impact of access to the Internet on the poor in the developing world more generally, and in Mexico [in particular], is indeed a novel and fascinating blend of theoretical and empirical approaches to tackling modern-day issues of democratizing information. This timely and thoughtful contribution opens up a window to the study of the policies that aim to provide Internet access to the poor, both as an effective human rights approach and an appropriate governance approach." -- Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor, San Francisco State University/UC-Berkeley, USA
"Jack Barry’s argument for Internet access as a human right offers a theoretically elegant and nuanced examination of how ICTs impact governance and the subsequent consequences for poverty alleviation. Barry’s work reconciles conflicting evidence on the roles of ICTs, making a critical contribution to development, governance, and poverty scholarship." -- Kristin Johnson, Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island, USA
"Jack Barry’s exploration of the benefits and limitations of the Internet and mobile phones for promoting human rights will be essential reading in this emerging field of study and practice. Using quantitative data and original interview analysis, Barry’s research reorients debates about the impact of ICTs toward the experiences of the users of these technologies. His analysis and policy recommendations significantly advance our understanding of how to use new information and communication technologies to combat poverty and further human rights." -- Molly K. Land, Professor of Law and Human Rights, University of Connecticut School of Law, USA
"This interdisciplinary and well-researched book provides a ‘guardedly optimistic’ answer to the effects of information technologies in the developing world. Barry examines issues of poverty, governance, and development from multidimensional angles including geographic and demographic variations, human rights perspectives, and a mixed-methods approach." -- J.P. Singh, George Mason University, USA