Digital Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality at the World’s Economic Margins
AAG Annual Meeting, Chicago, April 21-25, 2015
(sponsored by the Development Geography Research Group)
Mark Graham and Chris Foster, University of Oxford
We are in the throes of a global transformation of digital connectivity. Over six billion people have access to phones and two and a half billion people use the internet. Meanwhile, governments, international organisations, and corporations are developing plans, projects, and policies to connect the remaining disconnected. Fibre-optic cables, laptops for every child, and drones, balloons, and satellites all beaming down internet access are just some of the strategies being actively planned to bring connectivity to the rest of the world in the coming years.
As we approach a situation in which almost half of humanity is online, we need to explore the difference people expect connectivity to make at the world’s economic peripheries. Will connectivity amplify or deepen economic inequalities? Should we expect empowerment, inclusion, and opportunities; or further exploitation and extraversion?
This session brings together papers that seek to explore the differences that connectivity makes, and can make, in the contemporary international division of labour and on-going global shifts in economic flows. It will critically explore ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ networked capitalism, and the opportunities, struggles, and alternatives that it underpins. It will also facilitate a space for research that addresses the central question of ‘who benefits and who doesn’t from the increasing networking of the world’s population?’
Potential topics include:
- Discourses around connectivity, inclusion, and exclusion in the Global South
- ICT and development policies and who they ultimately benefit.
- Changes to global value chains or production networks
- Opportunities for upgrading or disintermediation
- Empirical or theoretical engagements with the idea of ‘connectivity’ and the roles that it can play amongst the world’s poorest
- Contemporary or historical treatments of the links between connectivity and inequality
- Alternative ways of imagining or envisioning connectivity at the world’s economic peripheries
- Case studies of global ‘body shopping’, digital work, or bottom of the pyramid capitalism
- Policies and initiatives for digital connectivity which support inclusion and reduced inequality
The deadline for receipt of abstracts is October 1 2014. Notification of acceptance will be before October 7. All accepted papers will then need to register for the AAG conference at aag.org. Accepted papers will be considered for a special issue or edited volume edited by the organisers.