ICT4D in China and the Capability Approach: Do They Mix?

ICT4D in China and the Capability Approach: Do They Mix?

Carol Ting (University of Macau, Taipa, Macau)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTHD.2015010104


For more than a decade, the Chinese government has poured copious resources into rural informatization as a means to increase agricultural productivity and rural economic growth. Such efforts so far have not produced definite results in rural areas, but increasing economic inequality and rising environmental threats have already forced the government to rethink its growth-centered development policy. Indeed, recent government releases clearly state the resolve to departure from the “GDP obsession” of the past. Meanwhile, the past three decades saw the rise of a powerful alternative development approach—the Capability Approach (CA), which focuses on empowering individuals and sees economic growth as one element of well-being. Given that the CA can potentially help devising a more coherent and holistic framework for Information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D), this paper examines the compatibility between the Capability Approach and the top-down socialist approach towards rural informatization in China. Built on two case studies of rural informatization in rural China, the present paper identifies potential obstacles to the adoption of the Capability Approach and discusses policy implications and suggestions.
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Literature Review

Laying the foundation for the CA analysis, the first part of this Section describes the Capability Approach and the second part reviews recent literature covering China’s rural informatization efforts and outcomes.

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