Innovation and its Social Impacts: The Role of Ethnography in the Evaluation and Assessment of ICTD Projects
MetadataShow full item record
Innovations in Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) are being increasingly deployed in a range of sectors, from government to medicine, to foster social change, especially in less affluent regions. Even as there emerges an inter-disciplinary field of ICT for Development (ICTD), there are many conceptual issues that need clarification. One such is methodological, or the question of how to evaluate and assess the impact of ICTs on developmental outcomes. This paper will argue that there are at least three aspects to assessing ICTD projects: ICTs, development, and the question of ICTD for whom. After identifying the diverse disciplinary perspectives that the study of each aspect demands, and highlighting the methodological pluralism that such disciplinary diversity will demand, the paper will discuss the relevance of ethnographic techniques for assessing ICTD projects. It will also use the case of two ICTD projects from India to argue why ethnographic techniques are crucial to understanding their outcomes.