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Development as freedom in a digital age : experiences of the rural poor in Bolivia (English)

Under what conditions can new technologies enhance the well-being of poor communities? The study designs an alternative evaluation framework (AEF) that applies Amartya Sen's capability approach to the study of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in order to place people's well-being, rather than technology, at the center of the study. The AEF develops an impact chain that examines the mechanisms by which access to, and meaningful use of, ICTs can enhance people's informational capabilities and improve people's human and social capabilities. This approach thus uses people's individual and collective capabilities, rather than measures of access or use, as its principal evaluative space. Based on empirical evidence from indigenous communities' use of new technologies in rural Bolivia, the study concludes that enhancing poor people's informational capabilities is the most critical factor determining the impact of ICTs on their well-being. Improved informational capabilities, like literacy, do enhance the human capabilities of poor and marginalized peoples to make strategic life choices and achieve the lifestyle they value. Evaluating the impact of ICTs in terms of capabilities thus reveals no direct relationship between improved access to, and use of, ICTs and enhanced well-being; ICTs lead to improvements in people's lives only when informational capabilities are transformed into expanded human and social capabilities in the economic, political, social, organizational, and cultural dimensions of their lives. The study concludes that intermediaries are bound to play a central, even fundamental, role in this process. They help poor communities to enact and appropriate ICTs to their local socio-cultural context so that their use becomes meaningful for people's daily lives, enhances their informational capabilities, and ultimately improves their human and social capabilities.


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    Latin America & Caribbean,

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    Development as freedom in a digital age : experiences of the rural poor in Bolivia

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    information and communication technology;access to potable water;access to electricity service;access to the internet;educational material;access to sanitation;infant mortality rate;national household survey;role of technology;exchange of information;latin american study;family and friends;primary completion rate;means of communication;poor rural community;difference in expectations;market price information;civil society institution;indigenous knowledge systems;ict for development;access to ict;incidence of malaria;Access to Education;access to technology;living in poverty;privileges and immunity;maternal mortality rate;local government official;access to water;modern welfare economics;multivariate regression analysis;access to computer;poor rural people;information gap;marginalized communities;poor community;statistical significance;ict impact;social capital;information sources;citizenship right;socioeconomic variables;geographic region;Indigenous Peoples;social media;socioeconomic status;focus group;illiteracy rate;education level;indigenous organization;positive impact;indigenous community;indigenous communities;empirical evidence;printing press;digital divide;Political Economy;social network;communications channel;social capability;mosquito net;socioeconomic indicator;cultural dimension;primary data;Rural Poor;vertical accountability;socioeconomic development;holistic approach;technology solution;moderate poverty;rural area;extreme poverty;digital technology;geographic location;income inequality;statistical results;youth program;fishing net;regional distribution;community level;basic infrastructure;indigenous group;rigorous analysis;Learning and Innovation Credit;technology innovation;sociocultural context;agricultural practice;information channel;urban population;social dimension;market access;development of literature;young people;information flow;digital age;technological innovation;ethnic identities;survey respondent;field data;empirical findings;donor agencies;local economy;methodological approach;quantitative method;copyright owner;moral philosophy;government transparency;indigenous development;indigenous population;conventional approach;systematic analysis;rural setting;empirical material;qualitative data;personal empowerment;mass media;changing attitude;power structure;Child care;complementary factor;multiplier effect;cultural factor;gender difference;individual income;social good;maximum benefit;holistic manner;public space;local elite;individual variable;logistic regression;cultural reality;cultural identities;social context;interactive websites;political freedom;political opportunity;digitally literate;economic divide;living condition;Mobile Apps;institution building;technology access;research method;high-income earner;evaluation framework;peer network;amateur radio;Digital Literacy;information literacy;impact survey;information capital;sustainable livelihood;transaction cost;geographic factors;old people;empirical research;social opportunities;digital inequality;conceptual framework;empirical result;low-income earner;commercial purpose;household use;global effort;gender divide;ethnic group;poverty alleviation;independent variable;original work;disadvantaged community;food problem;institutional framework;community resource;agricultural productivity;print book;penetration rate;cultural impact;survey data;municipal government;census data;grassroots community;geographic area;institutional context;basic training;cultural background;sociocultural values;health indicator;effective strategy;sole responsibility;innovative aspect;social inclusion;social process;skill set;traditional media;high poverty;power relation;digital information;social life;democratic governance;Andean Community;



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Development as freedom in a digital age : experiences of the rural poor in Bolivia (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.