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Society and the InternetHow Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives$
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Mark Graham and William H. Dutton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199661992

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661992.001.0001

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A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy

A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy

Chapter:
(p.301) 19 A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy
Source:
Society and the Internet
Author(s):

Mark Graham

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661992.003.0020

The Internet is often promoted as an essential development strategy in both rich and poor countries, able to liberate economic information from its geographic constraints, and benefit the world’s poor by removing intermediaries between producers of goods in poor countries and consumers in rich countries. This chapter examines this possibility through a case study of Internet use in the Thai silk industry, where the producers of silk have traditionally received very little of the value of their fabric. Drawing on interviews to examine the tensions between the expected and observable effects of the Internet, this chapter shows how discourses about the transformative potentials of ICTs can have the dual effect of encouraging impractical investments of resources while simultaneously driving many useful projects and practices that would otherwise not occur. The chapter argues that research needs to help refine the assumptions that underpin the expectations tied to ICTs in low-income countries.

Keywords:   value chain, geography, ICTs, development, disintermediation, digital divide

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