The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Peacetech practices and their potentials for empowerment, participation and peace

Peacetech practices and their potentials for empowerment, participation and peace
Peacetech practices and their potentials for empowerment, participation and peace
This thesis takes as its starting point the empowerment and participatory potentials of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for peacebuilding that ubiquitous availability – even in conflict-affected area – seemingly presents. It seeks to explore the nature and extent of this transformative potential. It shows that the way this question has been framed to date leads to subtle and often implicit forms of technological determinism, where hopes are placed on new technologies to fix longstanding issues within peacebuilding. This thesis therefore proposes combining a practice lens with a performative view of the materiality of technologies. This performative view is translated in the concept of ‘affordances’ of ICTs – the possibilities offered for action. And so rather than asking whether new technologies can empower peacebuilders, it reframes the question towards how ICTs are actually being used in practice – what affordances are being leveraged – and whether these practices support or hinder the empowerment and participatory potentials often attributed to ICTs in peacebuilding. Practice is conceptualised as composed of three main elements: materials (including technological affordances), competence and meanings.

The empirical focus of this thesis is on the Build Peace community of practice, a first global community dedicated to peacetech – the practice of using ICTs for peacebuilding. First an analysis of Build Peace discursive and material practices constructs peacetech practices-asentities to show what its constitutive elements are and how they are integrated together. The second empirical section of the thesis focuses on the performance of peacetech practices through ethnographic observation of a peacetech project in Burundi. It examines both the project’s implementation and the development of its technology. The insights generated from this mixed method approach show that ICTs can indeed afford greater participation in peacebuilding and initiate new forms of engagement in these processes, potentially resulting in empowerment. However this is less due to their ubiquitous availability and more to a combination of various technological affordances unfolding within managed, facilitated processes by actors already engaged in peacebuilding at the local level. More fundamentally this thesis shows that despite aspirations to the contrary, peacetech practices are more likely at this stage to replicate traditional peacebuilding practices than transcend them. This means that power imbalances lamented by decades of peacebuilding literature are not fixed by the availability of new ICTs, even though the technological affordances for such transformative potentials do exist. This thesis analyses some of the reasons why these are currently not actualised and proposes some ways forward for practitioners and policy makers.
University of Southampton
Gaskell, Jennifer Rhian
9653ac56-1d66-4d76-93dc-8064edbe5f99
Gaskell, Jennifer Rhian
9653ac56-1d66-4d76-93dc-8064edbe5f99
Halford, Susan
5a746e26-6798-4dfe-a77e-3c65871ca2d2
Weal, Mark
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Stoker, Gerry
ca87d03e-eefd-42c0-88f9-9c48d92a552a

Gaskell, Jennifer Rhian (2019) Peacetech practices and their potentials for empowerment, participation and peace. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis takes as its starting point the empowerment and participatory potentials of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for peacebuilding that ubiquitous availability – even in conflict-affected area – seemingly presents. It seeks to explore the nature and extent of this transformative potential. It shows that the way this question has been framed to date leads to subtle and often implicit forms of technological determinism, where hopes are placed on new technologies to fix longstanding issues within peacebuilding. This thesis therefore proposes combining a practice lens with a performative view of the materiality of technologies. This performative view is translated in the concept of ‘affordances’ of ICTs – the possibilities offered for action. And so rather than asking whether new technologies can empower peacebuilders, it reframes the question towards how ICTs are actually being used in practice – what affordances are being leveraged – and whether these practices support or hinder the empowerment and participatory potentials often attributed to ICTs in peacebuilding. Practice is conceptualised as composed of three main elements: materials (including technological affordances), competence and meanings.

The empirical focus of this thesis is on the Build Peace community of practice, a first global community dedicated to peacetech – the practice of using ICTs for peacebuilding. First an analysis of Build Peace discursive and material practices constructs peacetech practices-asentities to show what its constitutive elements are and how they are integrated together. The second empirical section of the thesis focuses on the performance of peacetech practices through ethnographic observation of a peacetech project in Burundi. It examines both the project’s implementation and the development of its technology. The insights generated from this mixed method approach show that ICTs can indeed afford greater participation in peacebuilding and initiate new forms of engagement in these processes, potentially resulting in empowerment. However this is less due to their ubiquitous availability and more to a combination of various technological affordances unfolding within managed, facilitated processes by actors already engaged in peacebuilding at the local level. More fundamentally this thesis shows that despite aspirations to the contrary, peacetech practices are more likely at this stage to replicate traditional peacebuilding practices than transcend them. This means that power imbalances lamented by decades of peacebuilding literature are not fixed by the availability of new ICTs, even though the technological affordances for such transformative potentials do exist. This thesis analyses some of the reasons why these are currently not actualised and proposes some ways forward for practitioners and policy makers.

Text
Jen thesis electronic final May 2019 - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
Download (12MB)

More information

Published date: June 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 437698
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/437698
PURE UUID: 2c5a0446-9927-4c53-94a1-74d38734c16d
ORCID for Jennifer Rhian Gaskell: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1702-6234
ORCID for Mark Weal: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6251-8786

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Feb 2020 17:31
Last modified: 22 Mar 2022 02:54

Export record

Contributors

Thesis advisor: Susan Halford
Thesis advisor: Mark Weal ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Gerry Stoker

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×