Conscientisation and Human Development: The case of digital inclusion programmes in Brazil

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

419 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis analyses digital inclusion programmes in Brazil through the combined theoretical lens of the Capability Approach (CA) to development and Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Findings suggest that a process of conscientisation is needed for individuals to fully take control of their appropriation of the technologies. Appropriation is understood as individuals being able to use ICT as tools to achieve what they value and have reason to value.

Through interviews, focus groups, observation, participatory methods and action research, the research examined two separate digital inclusion initiatives in Campinas, Brazil. The courses were offered free of charge, one by a public body and one by an NGO, and targeted disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

The thesis contributes to the growing literature of operationalising the CA in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). It integrates Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed into the CA, as a way to address some of the critiques this approach has received, and to strengthen concepts related to power and distinct mechanisms for social change. Further, the thesis offers a key contribution by developing concrete methods to implement the CA in a participatory manner with organisations in the field. Further developing Kleine’s Choice Framework, an operationalisation of the CA, it proposes a visualisation tool to reflect changes in the portfolio of resources over the course of a digital inclusion programme. This tool can be used in monitoring, evaluation and reporting, as well as within the conscientisation dialogue between teachers and students. Empirically, the in-depth research shows that the process of conscientisation is time-consuming and resource-intensive, but effective in supporting learner-led appropriation of the technology, in line with the lives the learners themselves have reason to value.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Kleine, Dorothea, Supervisor
  • Willis, Katie, Advisor
Award date1 May 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


  • ICT4D
  • Digital Inclusion
  • Digital Literacy
  • Capability approach
  • Paulo Freire
  • Brazil

Cite this