Signifiers of the life we value? – considering human development, technologies and Fair Trade from the perspective of the capabilities approach

Dorothea Kleine, Ann Light, Maria-José Montero

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This paper argues that the capabilities approach challenges us to co-design technologies with users in a way that expands the freedom of the user to live the life they themselves value. The aim is to show, with the help of a concrete example, our attempt at applying the capabilities approach to an information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) action research project. The objective of the Fair Tracing project was to support both producers and consumers in their decision-making in Fair Trade value chains by using information and communication technologies to provide them with information. Based on survey data, formal and informal interviews, group meetings, accompanied shopping and a design workshop with potential users, the project applied the bottom-up, participatory approach to technology design that the capabilities approach demands. Key challenges that were encountered included the competing capabilities of making informed buying decisions and of having more time. Action research and participatory design create important and challenging test settings for introducing the capabilities approach in ICT4D work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)42-60
    JournalInformation Technology for Development
    Volume18
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2012

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