Telecentres: The New Public Spheres?

Telecentres: The New Public Spheres?

Vineeta Dixit (Consultant, Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Government of India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-713-3.ch016
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Abstract

Information communications technologies (ICTs) are one of the major areas of research and investment in developing countries because they seem to serve the cause of democratisation and empowering citizens by extending the public sphere. ICTs and especially Internet are regarded as the new public sphere for they seem to lie outside the market and the State, nurtured by civil society serving the cause of good governance and democratisation and empowering grassroots initiatives, giving them access to critical information, organising political actions, influencing public opinion and policy-making. This chapter examines the ‘publicness’ of the telecentres in the framework of public sphere as defined by Habermas. The chapter uses telecentres as representative of ‘technology mediated public space’ created by ICTs and Internet and examines two approaches to the Telecentre movement, analysing whether Telecentres can meet the requirements of the rational-critical discussions and if and what factors influence the extension of the public sphere. The chapter concludes that while the telecentres create opportunities to improve communication and reconnect citizens to the State, offering greater access to information and support for group based discussion, they are likely to support only incremental modifications to the democratic system because the current use of information communication technologies (ICTs) concentrates primarily on information provision, and not linkages that improve the quality of democratic discourse.
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Conceptual Framework

The multiple conceptual threads that intertwine with the core question required a multidisciplinary approach that included the conceptualisation of the public sphere, elaboration on governance, Telecentres and the factors affecting these elements.

Many scholars have extrapolated from Habermas’ work in constructing connections between technology, information and civil society (Wishard, 1994; Boyte and Kari 1996). The conceptual framework used to examine the ‘publicness’ is based on the Habermasian public sphere and its linkages with the system factor encompassing social, technology and use factors (adapted from Lin, 2003) that shape and re-shape it. The left side of the diagram represents the context and the right side, the universal parameters. It can therefore be adapted to analyse varied contexts against a set of universal parameters.

Diagrammatically, the framework can be represented as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Conceptual framework to examine the ‘Publicness’ (Source: Adapted from Lin, 2003)

Conceptually, the four factors – system, social, technology and use that form the contextual half of the conceptual framework will now be discussed in turn.

Complete Chapter List

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Dedication
Ganesh P. Sahu, Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Vishanth Weerakkody
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Marijn Janssen
Preface
Ganesh P. Sahu, Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Vishanth Weerakkody
Acknowledgment
Ganesh P. Sahu, Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Vishanth Weerakkody
Chapter 1
Bharat Maheshwari, Vinod Kumar, Uma Kumar, Vedmani Sharan
Electronic government (E-government) portals are considered one of the most popular conduits for offering government services online. Successful... Sample PDF
A Framework for E-Government Portal Development
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Chapter 2
Petter Gottschalk
The mobilization of electronic information across government organizations has the potential of modernizing and transforming information exchanges.... Sample PDF
E-Government Interoperability: Frameworks for Aligned Development
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Chapter 3
Mahfuz Ashraf, Jo Hanisch, Paul Swatman
While there is hope that ICT interventions will lead to socio-economic development in developing countries, there is a dearth of research concerning... Sample PDF
An Explorative Study of Dynamic Influences on ICT-Led Developmental Impact at Community Level
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Chapter 4
Marc Holzer, Aroon Manoharan
The chapter is based on a study of global municipal Web portals conducted through a collaboration between the E-Governance Institute at... Sample PDF
Tracking the Digital Divide: Studying the Association of the Global Digital Divide with Societal Divide
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Chapter 5
Charru Malhotra, V.M. Chariar, L.K. Das
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Making ICT more Meaningful for Governance in the Rural Areas: Role of the Community Knowledge Systems
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Chapter 6
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Impact of E-Government Implementation on Poverty Reduction in Rural India: Selected Case Studies
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E-governance is the public sector’s use of information and communication technologies (ICT) with the aim of improving information and service... Sample PDF
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Chapter 9
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Chapter 11
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Chapter 12
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Chapter 13
C.S.R. Prabhu
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Chapter 14
Swamy Tribhuvananda H.V., Gopakumar K.
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Chapter 15
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Chapter 16
Vineeta Dixit
Information communications technologies (ICTs) are one of the major areas of research and investment in developing countries because they seem to... Sample PDF
Telecentres: The New Public Spheres?
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