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by Lelia Green, Emmanuel Lallana, Zaharom Nain and Ma
This chapter sets out to examine ICT as it impacts upon and reflects social and political processes, culture, gender and values. In representing a region as diverse and vibrant as Asia Pacific, we cannot hope to analyse, or even describe, all the various ways in which these aspects of society are manifested. We embrace and celebrate the diversity of the region, and we have no wish to make it appear uniform or to stifle discussion of national, cultural or religious differences. However, we have accepted the challenge of writing this chapter as if with one voice, and we have chosen to do this according to the following structure.
The framework adopted in this chapter takes us from the regional environment through national, local and domestic contexts, with some historical perspectives. However, this is not a theory-free zone, and there is some discussion of the nature of e-governance (and the potential it offers in addition to effective e-government). Similarly, we look at the potential of ICT for enhancing democratic exchange, allowing citizens to come together to discuss and address concerns of a global nature: the environment, human rights, poverty and injustice. This discussion of activism leads on to the matter of indigenous peoples and their development of a collective voice through which to speak to global forums.
Does technology change society? We investigate the social and cultural implications of technology use and also why information behaves very differently from material goods. We then turn to the problems faced by countries that “try to keep up” with technological advances. To some extent, the magnitude of these problems depends upon the attitudes of not only their citizens but also their governments to the promise (or threat) of the digital future. At the level of the individual and the community, we once again assume a big-picture perspective, analysing the potential of the Internet as the doorway to the information economy and the resulting tensions and problems that may arise within households and between households separated by the digital divide. Finally, we address gender disparities.