Community informatics and Information and Communications Technology for Development research projects frequently focus on the appropriation of ICTs and the design of information systems to meet the needs of communities. Such projects typically involve a range of participants reflecting different cultures and depend for their success on the ability of the project to bridge differences. Using PROTIC (Participatory Research and Ownership with Technology, Information and Change), a 5-year collaborative project between Monash University, Oxfam Australia and Oxfam in Bangladesh as a case study, this paper reflects on the use of a “mainstream” form of participatory action research (PAR) as a tool capable of engaging in more sustainable projects by helping to identify and to take into account localised or context-specific social and cultural issues in the design of the information system itself, consequently improving the effectiveness and sustainability of the systems developed. The idea of emic understandings of culture have also been used to interpret the project and PAR as an intercultural exchange around developing a community-focussed sociotechnical project.
- Emic cultural practices
- Participatory action research (PAR)