Critical Agency in ICT4D: a case study of Zambian women's use of participatory video technology to challenge gender inequality

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Women in Zambia experience profound gender discrimination and disadvantage which constrains their development. This research provides a case study of Asikana Network, a women's group formed to tackle gender inequality in Zambia's male-dominated technology sector. It analyses their use of information and communication technologies for pursuing development goals (ICT4D) especially their use of 'participatory video'.

Some Southern scholars, including Paulo Freire and Amartya Sen have argued that in order for disadvantaged people to better self-determine their own development they need first to enhance their 'critical-agency'. This involves both their critical analysis of the root causes of the disadvantage that they experience, as well as their agency to act on those structures to transform their situation. This research analyses the concept of critical-agency and the use of participatory video to enhance it, drawing on the capability approach and critical feminist pedagogy. A participatory action research approach and a mixture of qualitative methods are employed, analysing data from films, interviews and focus groups.

Empirically the research addresses three gaps in the existing literature; it provides a case study of Zambian women's use of participatory video to enhance critical-agency; it identifies specific affordances of participatory video that enhance critical-agency, and it contributes methodological recommendations for critical participatory video practice. The research also makes conceptual contributions: in developing and defining the concept of critical-agency and its constituent elements; and by making some tentative recommendations towards a critical theory-practice of ICT4D characterised by an emancipatory practice and by a transformist intent.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Kleine, Dorothea, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


  • ICT4D, PV, critical, agency, participatory, video, zambia, gender

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