Technology, Globalization and Poverty
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Technology, Globalization and Poverty

Jeffrey James

This significant book presents an original examination of the theoretical and empirical interactions between globalization, technology and poverty. Jeffrey James studies the effect of information technology on patterns of globalization and explores how such patterns can be altered to reduce the growing global divide between rich and poor nations.
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Chapter 4: Pro-Poor Modes of Technical Integration into the Global Economy

Jeffrey James


INTRODUCTION Recent evidence indicates that globalization based on technical advances in information technology is creating a dualistic situation in the world economy, whereby the benefits tend to accrue to a narrow group of relatively affluent countries, while the majority lag behind. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest a framework within which to assess an alternative, pro-poor form of technical integration into the global economy. We are concerned in other words with a form of globalization that benefits the poor as well as the rich. To this end, we shall focus on the role that can be played by NGOs, aid donors and national governments. According to the most recent Human Development Report (UNDP (1999) p. 6), globalization based on technological advances such as the Internet, mobile phones and fax machines is creating ‘parallel worlds’, one which is using these technological advances for rapid growth and another which is falling ever further behind. Those with income, education and - literally - connections have cheap and instantaneous access to information. The rest are left with uncertain, slow and costly access. When people in these two worlds live and compete side by side, the advantage of being connected will overpower the marginal and impoverished, cutting off their voices and concerns from the global conversation. If left to itself, the market mechanism will not narrow the gap between these two worlds. On the contrary, the gap between them will tend to widen over time in the cumulative fashion envisaged originally by Gunnar...

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