Practitioners and ICTD: Communities of Practice Theory in Technology Interventionism

Author: Anthony Poon (Cornell University)


Session: 2.3. Technology adoption and politics

Abstract: ICTD is a field with a long history of interventionist research in a broad set of domains, including health, agriculture, education, and civics. A common thread between many of these interventions is that they addressed the knowledge and actions of practitioners who were engaged in development activities in their contexts. In this paper, I survey the past literature of ICTD interventions targeting practitioners to identify a common typology that spans domain and context. I use Lave and Wenger’s Communities of Practice (CoP) theory as a way to understand the situated and social aspects of practice and describe how ICTD interventions have often engaged with such communities. I discuss how a CoP lens may intersect with other theoretical lenses in ICTD and related fields, specifically around concepts of agency, intrinsic motivation, amplification, and sustainability. I describe how such intersections may inform future interventionist research in the Global South.