Using Actor-Network Theory to Trace an ICT (Telecenter) Implementation Trajectory in an African Women's Micro-Enterprise Development Organization

Jo Rhodes


Arguments abound as to whether information and communication technologies (ICTs) can beneficially shape socioeconomic development and micro-enterprise, whether they are appropriate to local culture, and whether they fit with the development approach in use. This paper uses participative action research to explore the impact of network translations on the actor-network of a South African rural women's development organization. One of the three translations considered is the introduction of ICTs through a government-sponsored telecenter; in this case, inserted into a complex socio-political context among a myriad of actors and actor-networks. The due process model is applied to this translation to show the neglect of institutionalization factors. Using Actor-Network Theory to trace translation trajectories captures the effects of the inescapable "openness" of actor-networks, effects that lead to the inevitabilities of unanticipated consequences, which result in "messes" overflowing the frames constructed to contain them.


ICTs; socioeconomic development; micro-enterprise; local cutlure; South Africa; women's development; Actor-Network Theory; openness

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