Introducing Technologies in Africa. Between Appropriation and the Challenge of a Trojan Horse

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 68
Oral Presentation
Dieter NEUBERT , Development Sociology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
Current studies on the introduction of technological innovations in Africa underline that we observe a process of appropriation. This is in line with the hypotheses of the science and technology studies (STS) claiming that the development, use and understanding of technology has to be seen as a social process between people and (technological) ‘actants’. The findings from mostly anthropological studies focus in the same way as STS on the change of technologies according to the social conditions of their use and emphasize the influences of the local context on the technology. Up to this point STS seems to produce in Africa similar results as in the Global North (or the industrialized societies). However, the introduction of technological innovations in Africa has more consequences than to shape the technology itself. The use of specific technologies may change the behavior and expectation of the users, too. Modern technology also incorporates basic ideas of modernity like the mastering of nature. Once new technologies are used they may act as a Trojan horse of modernity. In Giddens terms the behavioral changes are consequences of modernity. Therefore, technological innovation as a social process takes effect in two ways it shapes the technology but also the users. Which way these changes take is an open question. STS has shown that the development and application of technologies is a social process. When we use this approach outside the Global North we have to admit that the technology itself plays an important role. We have to put more emphasis on the notion and function of ‘actants’.