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Subalternity in Information Systems in Developing Countries

Abstract : In the search for explanations of contradictory effects and its disappointing outcomes in developing countries, Information Systems (IS) have been critiqued as pursuing techno-economic rationalities of western modernity with no recognition of alternatives. Development has also been critiqued as a western program promoted through discourses that do not admit local conditions and histories. Through critical discourse analysis (CDA) and a case study of Ghana’s trade clearance system (TRADENET), we analyse how problematizations of IS in developing countries relate with local positions and contexts. We draw on the concepts of subalternity and hegemony to evaluate TRADENET’s effects vis-à-vis its problematization by powerful actors. We find that TRADENET is contradicted by historically formed behaviors, culture and traditions that were unrecognized in technical problematizations of trade, development and IS. Despite importance of unrecognized, alternative or ‘subaltern’ positions in shaping IS in developing countries, they remain unrecognized in dominant or ‘hegemonic’ problematizations. Findings suggest that uncovering subaltern positions might illuminate ‘blind spots’ of IS in developing countries such as peculiar contradictory effects; and hence, inform better theory and practice.
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Atta Addo. Subalternity in Information Systems in Developing Countries. 14th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries (ICT4D), May 2017, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. pp.573-592, ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-59111-7_47⟩. ⟨hal-01650064⟩

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