GEM practitioners participate in research on technology and social change

Author's name: 
Dafne Sabanes Plou, APC WNSP

Two GEM practitioners participated in a research on internet access of local people using internet cafes and public kiosks in neighborhoods and popular sectors in Chile, Argentina and Peru. The results of this research were published in the book “Technology and social change” that was presented at the Institute of Peruvian Studies in Lima, Peru, August 21.

Patricia Peña, Chile, and Juan Fernando Bossio, of Peru, are social scientists who collaborated with the GEM 2 project to adapt the GEM methodology in four areas: telecentres, rural development, localization and ICT policies (ICT). Patricia participated in the GEM 2 workshop in Kuala Lumpur in 2007 and assisted in the discussion of the adaptation of GEM to evaluate ICT public policies. Juan Fernando also participated in the workshop in Kuala Lumpur and was part of the team in CEPES (Peruvian Studies Centre) who worked on the adaptation of GEM for telecentres in the Huaral Valley, Peru. The GEM 2 workshop aimed to train evaluators to use the GEM methodology in the adaptation processes.

The objective of the research was to determine the impact of communication via the internet in popular culture and in the standards of living in the social sectors that were studied. It was interesting to confirm that access to electronic communication and the internet lead to the formation of powerful local social networks, through which millions of people find opportunities to learn, work and empower themselves to improve their living conditions.

Patricia Peña and Alejandra Phillippi investigated the impact of access to ICTs in grassroots women using telecenters programmes sponsored by government, “I love my neighborhood”, in peri-urban neighborhoods and rural towns. Using gender analysis, the researchers studied the impact of this access on women, their imaginary and their appropriation of technology.

Juan Fernando Bossio, together with Laura León and Jorge Bossio investigated the influence of ICTs in grassroots organizations in rural areas of the Peruvian Andes. In its conclusions, this research indicates that “in a context where there are higher capacities and better intentions, technology will bring more value than in one with less capabilities and negative intentions”-

Among the recommendations, the authors consider that “programmes or projects using ICTs for development should include among their constituents, not just programmes to improve ICT use for upgrading organizational capabilities, but also capacity building components aimed at strengthening the organizations, with particular impact in leadership, infrastructure, linkages and financial management.”

A third study, by an Argentine team consisting of Sebastián Benítez Larghi, Carolina Aguerre, Marina Calamari, Ariel Fontecoba, Marina Moguillansky, Jimena Orchuela and Jimena Ponce de León, worked on the appropriation of ICT by urban youth in popular sectors in their country.

Research teams involved in this publication were supported by the Research Grant Amy Maham and Regional Dialogue on the Information Society (DIRSI). The publication, which was edited by Francisco J. Proenza, was made possible with support from the Institute of Peruvian Studies and IDRC, Canada.

To download the book, in Spanish: http://www.upf.edu/amymahan/es/publicacionfinal/IDRC_completa.pdf

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