Sociotechnical transformative effects of an ICT project in rural Bangladesh

Larry Stillman, Mauro Sarrica, Misita Anwar, Anindita Sarker, Manuela Farinosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to provide lessons from the field about an Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) project (Participatory Research and Ownership With Technology, Information and Change [PROTIC]) concerned with the use of mobile phones by women in remote villages in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government considers that the role of ICT in social and economic transformation is significant for the country’s development. International nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) also regard ICT as important but are challenged as how to use them effectively for their programs and how to deal with long-term sustainability, digital divides, gender, and cultural issues. This article considers the PROTIC project as a modeling force for innovation and pressure on established sociotechnical structures. In this analysis, we follow what Donner defines as the “interrelationship” perspective, as applied to ICT4D. In particular, the notions of niche, regime, and landscape will be used to frame the changes that a village-level project may activate or respond to at the micro, meso, and macro levels of sociotechnical interaction. A mixed methods approach has been implemented during the 4 years of the project to monitor its outcomes, including interviews with project participants, reports of monthly consultations and training with villagers, extensive surveys, analysis of the Facebook profile of the project, and field notes and interviews with local NGOs and international NGO staff. Results show that the women villagers have undergone a transformation in attitudes, skills, and practices associated with mobile phone use. Transformations at individual and community niche levels have in turn influenced the conceptual framework of local and international NGOs and have also contributed to the reorientation of other regime actors, such as universities, major NGOs, and the government. Methodological constraints as well as the complexity of conducting international fieldwork with multiple actors will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1888
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume64
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • multilevel perspective
  • sociotechnical regimes
  • ICT4D
  • transformative effects
  • ICT and gender

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