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ICT in Global Context (Research Paper Sample)


The paper is about ICT and globalization. It was mean to explain the role, if any, that ICT plays in globalization.


Title: Globalization and ICT
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In the modern world, the place of Information Communication and Technology is so important. ICT is an integrated system of communication and technology. ICT allows for the handling of information and brings together the various forms of communication. ICT encompasses a number of technologies that include capturing technologies processing technologies, communication technologies and display technologies (Hamelink, 1997). Another school of thought defines ICT as systems, technologies, tools and services that allows for information storage, dissemination, communication and retrieval (World Bank). This paper will discuss the role of ICT in globalization.
In the global context, ICT can be said to exhibit some social nature, technical nature and institutional nature. The social context defines ICT in a number of different ways. These technologies promote and constrain relationships and might lead to some consequences among the various stakeholders. ICT is also thought to posses the power which can alter the control structures that are in existence.
The technical nature of ICT on the other hand portrays ICT as a larger socio-technical system. This outlook presents ICT’s value in a functional way. The technical nature of ICT emphasizes that ICT posses both computational and communicative roles. The performance of these roles might lead to spatial and temporal consequences (Castells, 2004)
The third dimension of ICT’s is that which view ICT in light of its institutional nature. The institutional nature of ICT regards ICT as being embedded institutions. This nature also appreciates the fact that ICT can be used to shape institutions while at the same time the institutions can also help in shaping ICT. Often times ICT play a crucial role in the political framework. ICT is so crucial that it can not be discussed outside any institutional arrangement.
Information and communication technologies have value and also posses the an inherent ability if creating winners and losers. The context in which a particular information technology is used affects the role and meaning of the technology. That is to say, similar ICTs can have different meaning, roles and outcomes in different settings. The use of ICTs can lead to a myriad of paradoxical effects, which might result into consequences can either be intentional or unintentional. The use of ICT confers both ethical and moral aspects both of which have social implications.
ICTs are configurable and they posses a number of components that are usually networked to form a complete whole. These networks often follow trajectories that favor the status quo. The different ICTs usually co-evolve during the various phases of the projects. These ICTs have both a past and a future (Avgerou, & Walsham, 2000, p.13 ). The ICT sector has a number of players. These re the various people, organizations, governments and policy makers that constitute the body of stakeholders in the field. These stakeholders include firms, policy making institutions, regulatory bodies, and global actors who comprise majorly of communities and consumers.
The mediating role of ICTs In the global society
Information communication and technologies have given rise to capitalism where market systems and functions are fashioned around a private property. Capitalism on its stead has also given rise to the development of ICTS which maximize production, cut down on cost of production and enhances developments. There are two main theories that explain the significance of technology. These are the social shaping theory and the technological determinism theory. The latter sees technology as being outside the society and thus treats technology as an independent factor. This theory clearly states that the changes in technology drives the changes seen in the social sphere (Mackenzie and Wajcman 1995).
The technological determinism theory has been criticized on the premise that it assumes that the changes in technology are independent of social activities. Secondly, this theory has also been criticized because it supports the ideology that technological advance responds to social direction and depends on inducements, incentives and rewards. The third criticism stems from the fact that it must be compatible with the pre-existing institutions in the society. This is not an easy task to achieve.
On the other hand, the social shaping theory of technology rejects the postulates laid by technological determinism (Mackenzie & Wajcman). This theory uses two conceptual tools i.e. SCOT ()Social constructivism) and ANT (). The first conceptual tool holds that technology does not determine human actions. In fact it theorizes that it is the action of humans that shapes the technology. The key concepts found in this definition include interpretive flexibility and relevant social groupings. Social constructivism also explains how social groups close up upon reaching consensus. These groups are said to have attained stability and thus closed up.
SCOT also has technological frames which allows for interaction between different actors in a social group. In this setting, technological interactions are non-linear and multi-directional processes that is dotted with constant negotiations among different groups (Pinch and Bijker, 1967). This tool is also criticized because it ignores the issues of power and places much emphasis on social determinism. Social determinism is considered the greatest weakness of this tool because it places emphasis on the environment and social choice at the expense of any technological facts.
An alternative theory has been forwarded to bridge the gaps left behind by the social and technological determinism theory. This has been presented in the name of CAN (Actor Network Theory). This theory views the technological process as a process of building networks. The actors in this network are both human and non-human. This theory is deemed important particularly in the study of technologies where the interactions between technology, politics and social institutions are deemed important.
The Actor Network theory is seen as being successful because of its ability to persuade actors to make use of technology in a particular way and promises the actors that the technology bears the solution to the problems bedeviling them (Held, , et al 2009). The second phase of CAN’s success is in its ability to inspire the actors to recruit their allies into the networks assuring them that the network holds the solutions to their problems. This phase is important because it leads to the stabilization of the networks.
The third success stems from the fact that the membership to the network is irreversible. This means that there comes a point in the network where withdrawal from the network is highly unlikely. This theory is not free of criticism. It is criticized on two fronts, firstly, the theory is limited in the analysis of social structures and secondly it does not provide persuasive explanations to what it purports. The information society is saturated by media. In this setup, technology is regarded as the main social dynamic. This is important because it creates information networks which eliminates space and time and connects different locations.
Globalization of ICTs
According to Stiglitz 2002, the term globalization denotes the closer integration of the people of the world which emanates from the enormous reduction in costs of communication across borders, and the elimination of artificial barriers which restricts the free flow of people, goods, services, knowledge and capital. Pieterse 1998 on the other hand defined globalization as the accelerated intermeshing of the people...
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