Critical Silences: Disability, Networked Technologies and the Global South

  • Anupama RoyEmail author
  • Sarah Lewthwaite
Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP)


Digital networked technologies have become an increasingly integral part of human activity, shaping and being shaped by individual and collective lives. Across the world, networked economies increasingly position new technologies as key to effective governance, education, growth and the preparation of a future work force. Many countries in the global South are adopting policies and domestic strategies that seek to embed and integrate networked technologies as an essential part of everyday life (Toyama 2013). In this frame, technologies are held to ‘powerfully contribute to the worldwide democratisation, civic engagement and action-orientated social responsibility’ (Benson and Harkavy 2002). Policy developments such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stress the role of technology in enabling people with disabilities, putting the accessibility of digital tools and services at the centre of government policies. Yet, a move beyond the habitual exoticisation of technology and its assumed benefits is important. The claims made for technology as a route to social justice have not been substantiated (Selwyn 2013). In this chapter we examine not only the narratives that dominate mainstream understandings of technology and ‘digital divides’ but also the morenuanced debates in areas deemed most relevant to disabled people. We structure our account to recognise the lifecycle of mobile and networked devices, from (re)sourcing through to manufacture, usage, maintenance, disposal and governance. We do not intend to deny technology’s positive impacts; we seek to highlight silences in technology and disability discourse —disabled experiences that are missing— occluded by the arrangement of social, geopolitical, economic and cultural forces that shape our technologies and day-to-day life across the world.


Networked technologies Globalisation Pollution Virtual Spatial divides Digital technologies Resourcing Manufacturing Digital global production chains 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brighton and Sussex Medical SchoolUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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