Chapter 16: The platformisation of global development
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This chapter explores how deployment of digital platforms aligns with the behavioural turn in global development to create conditions for experimentation with new forms of privatised behavioural governance. It draws on documented examples in biometric verification, digital finance, and technical assistance to smallholder farmers. Processes of “platformisation” secure and extend economic advantage for dominant market actors and reorient the state towards generation of demand for their services. This consolidation of market dominance and data capture by transnational firms is enabled by outdated global governance frameworks designed to address digital exclusion rather than the reality of “adverse digital incorporation”. As infrastructures of “high-tech modernism” digital platforms render populations legible in ways that intensify pre-existing inequalities and erode human agency by design. This poses particular risks to populations whose livelihoods depend on informal institutions of mutuality and reciprocity – as informal, solidaristic relations are displaced by vertical relations of market dependence.

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