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The World Region

Best Wishes to Professor Habermas

Tom Jacobson's picture

I am asked by the CommGAP team if I would be willing to post a note on the occasion of Jürgen Habermas's 80th birthday. I am grateful for being asked, and especially pleased at the moment of reflection on a remarkable life that this requires.  
 

Of course, his work on the relationship between communication and democratization is widely celebrated. Somewhat ruefully for some of us, since it always seems that one has just finished struggling through an engagement with his latest work when he produces yet another, often in a different field of scholarship: first the public sphere, then reason, then ethics, then law, and most recently religion. But, not to complain. These efforts are all connected together in a system of thought that has the subject of deliberative democracy at its core.
 

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"Democratic procedures and public service media are... important correctives to the mistaken trust in the therapeutic powers of unbridled technical expertise... The belief in technocratic solutions... does not properly acknowledge that the language games used to define and portray risk frame the policy process, and in turn govern the attempted regulation of risk.  The belief in technocratic solutions is also dangerous insofar as it can bolster the temptations to deal with... risks through dirigiste policies or by resorting to states of emergency and crackdowns on the media.  Democracy and public service media are unrivalled remedies for technocratic delusions of this kind.  They raise the level and quality of 'risk communication' by guaranteeing the open flow of opinions, risk evaluations and controversies back and forth among individual citizens, academic experts, administrators, interest groups and social movements.  Democratic procedures combined with public service media can open up and render accountable the process in which citizens, experts, and policymakers comprehend, estimate, evaluate and deal with the probabilities and consequences of risks."

- John Keane (1991), The Media and Democracy

Photo credit: www.johnkeane.net

The Word on the Street: Writing as Personal and Social Transformation

Darshana Patel's picture

London’s Big Issue often features interviews with famous movie stars like Kate Winslet while the latest Big Issue South Africa features a review of a recently released local movie about 1950s apartheid.

Bogota has La Calle, Manila has The Jeepney magazine, and Washington, DC has Street Sense. Similar publications are found all over the world and have one thing in common. They are all written by people who are either homeless or living in vulnerable, temporary housing.

Many of these publications are part of The International Network of Street papers (INSP), a network of 101 street papers in 37 countries on 6 continents. The readership of these papers is at an astounding 30 million globally. 

Why we need more (not fewer) ICT4D pilot projects in education

Michael Trucano's picture

a different kind of pilot ... | image courtesy of World Bank via Flickr, used according to terms of its CC license.One message that is heard consistently at many ICT4D gatherings is that 'we have too many pilot projects', and that this is especially true for the education sector. 'What we need', or so the sentiment usually goes, 'is to scale up the pilot projects that have been on-going'.  Indeed, 'scaling up' seems to be the answer to the funk that many prominent ICT4D organizations currently find themselves in these days, with changes in funding priorities in international donor organizations, foundations and the international private sector provoking many groups to re-examine many of their current practices. Scaling up is then a way to demonstrate (and re-affirm) the relevance of what many organizations have been doing since their inception, and by pursuing no more pilot projects such organizations can better orient themselves to working at scale. Or so the story goes.

I would like to sound a contrary note:

What we need are more ICT4D pilot projects,
not fewer,
especially in the education sector!

The People's Purse: Budgeting for the Poor

Antonio Lambino's picture

It is uncontroversial that the resources governments spend belong to the people.  How these resources get allocated varies from country to country at the national and local levels.  Debates and deliberations surrounding the budgetary process are usually technical, tedious, and time-consuming.  Nonetheless, budgeting in the public sector is a critical entry point for the demand for better public goods and services and, more broadly, meaningful and effective citizen engagement.  If citizens could exercise their voices in the prioritization of public sector spending, then government programs would have a higher likelihood of reflecting the needs and wants of constituents.  So a key challenge and opportunity in this area is finding a judicious balance between solid technical analysis and meaningful citizen participation.
 

Changing Norms: Generating Public Will to Fight Corruption

Fumiko Nagano's picture

The current, mainstream approach to anti-corruption work by the international community involves establishing a normative framework (such as the comprehensive United Nations Convention against Corruption) that details a set of recommended standards for countries to meet, requesting that countries ratify the framework, and assisting them in achieving these standards. The framework lists specific measures designed to help countries prevent and control corruption, such as the establishment of independent anti-corruption commissions, creation of transparent procurement and public financial management systems, and promotion of codes of conduct for public officials rooted in ethics and integrity, to name a few.

What in the World is 'Rude Accountability'?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

I have just read a fascinating paper published by the Institute of Development Studies in the UK and written by Naomi Hossain. It is titled 'Rude Accountability in the Unreformed State: Informal Pressures on Frontline Bureaucrats in Bangladesh' [IDS Working Paper Volume 2009 Number 319]. The paper describes and analyzes what happens when poor peasants in Bangladesh are being poorly served by frontline service providers like doctors and teachers in an environment where the institutional accountability mechanisms do not work. So, what do these poor peasants do? They get angry and they show it. They speak rudely to these doctors and teachers who normally expect deference. They embarrass them. They get local newspapers to name and shame them.They even engage in acts of violence like vandalism. And their reactions often produces results, particularly the media reports. This is what Hossain calls 'rude accountability'.

Mobile Phones: Better Learning Tools than Computers? (An EduTech Debate)

Michael Trucano's picture

Photo courtesy of the World Bank | Photographer: Eric MillerinfoDev and UNESCO have teamed up to sponsor a series of monthly on-line discussions on low-cost ICT initiatives for educational systems in developing countries.  The debate for June is titled Mobile Phones: Better Learning Tools than Computers? 


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