9616 - Information Societies and Their Promises of ‘Development’ - Ajit Pyati
The discourse and concept of an ‘information society’ has acquired salience as one of the major framing tools for understanding the state of the world today. A ‘common sense’ approach would validate this perception due to the preponderance and undeniable importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs), the increased economic importance of information, and worldwide growth in information intensive and service related professions. Despite these realities, however, the information society remains a contested concept, particularly as a tool for envisioning global social and collective futures.
This course interrogates the information society from the standpoint of critical development studies, a set of theoretical frameworks for analyzing the power dynamics of the modernist project of international development. Understanding the information society through this lens is particularly important given the increasing reliance of states in both the Global North and South on the information society as an ideology and paradigm for development and socio-economic planning. In addition, the course explores prominent theories of the information society, building on Castells’ globalized network society thesis and working towards a consideration of contributions of information society theories and critiques from the Global South. A major goal of the course is to expose the contradictions, tensions, and emancipatory potentials of this concept within the uneven terrain of global power dynamics. Implicit in this exploration are issues regarding the future of the nation-state, potentially new democratic formations, and alternative critiques from the Global South.
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