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Beyond access: reconceptualizing digital identification and inclusion through the case of Aadhaar

Beyond access: reconceptualizing digital identification and inclusion through the case of Aadhaar
Beyond access: reconceptualizing digital identification and inclusion through the case of Aadhaar
India’s Aadhaar biometric identification system—the world’s largest digital identification scheme which provides unique identification to over 1.2 billion people—has become a vibrant archetype of the pursuit of inclusion through technology. However, the notion of inclusion appears to be taken for granted in various studies of Aadhaar, with little problematization of technology’s role in realizing its multiple facets. Against this backdrop, we survey conceptualizations of inclusion in the discourses on Aadhaar to understand its facets and underlying assumptions. Drawing on a literature review of studies that link the Aadhaar to inclusion, we show that the dominant discourse equates inclusion to the potential for accessing welfare provisioning, services, or other socioeconomic benefits through the instrumentality of technology. We critique this dominant position of inclusion as narrow, by drawing upon the body of work on social inclusion and human development. We suggest a reconceptualization of digitally enabled social inclusion that attends to higher-level processes and outcomes beyond access—such as participation, transformation, empowerment, and emancipation—and articulates technology implications beyond technical-rational instrumentality. We contribute a conceptual framework of digital inclusion that has relevance for other developing countries undergoing digital identification initiatives for inclusion.
Digital Identification, Inclusion, Aadhaar, Information Systems, Socioeconomic Development, Discourse
0065-0668
Addo, Atta
f0458963-f8b6-4841-88a1-aeb95a94f430
Senyo, PK
b2150f66-8ef9-48f7-af32-3b055d4fa691
Addo, Atta
f0458963-f8b6-4841-88a1-aeb95a94f430
Senyo, PK
b2150f66-8ef9-48f7-af32-3b055d4fa691

Addo, Atta and Senyo, PK (2020) Beyond access: reconceptualizing digital identification and inclusion through the case of Aadhaar. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2020 (1). (doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2020.17762abstract).

Record type: Article

Abstract

India’s Aadhaar biometric identification system—the world’s largest digital identification scheme which provides unique identification to over 1.2 billion people—has become a vibrant archetype of the pursuit of inclusion through technology. However, the notion of inclusion appears to be taken for granted in various studies of Aadhaar, with little problematization of technology’s role in realizing its multiple facets. Against this backdrop, we survey conceptualizations of inclusion in the discourses on Aadhaar to understand its facets and underlying assumptions. Drawing on a literature review of studies that link the Aadhaar to inclusion, we show that the dominant discourse equates inclusion to the potential for accessing welfare provisioning, services, or other socioeconomic benefits through the instrumentality of technology. We critique this dominant position of inclusion as narrow, by drawing upon the body of work on social inclusion and human development. We suggest a reconceptualization of digitally enabled social inclusion that attends to higher-level processes and outcomes beyond access—such as participation, transformation, empowerment, and emancipation—and articulates technology implications beyond technical-rational instrumentality. We contribute a conceptual framework of digital inclusion that has relevance for other developing countries undergoing digital identification initiatives for inclusion.

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Digital ID and Inclusion - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 16 June 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 29 July 2020
Keywords: Digital Identification, Inclusion, Aadhaar, Information Systems, Socioeconomic Development, Discourse

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442610
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442610
ISSN: 0065-0668
PURE UUID: dbe010b3-1041-446a-9a67-456d473b2f71
ORCID for PK Senyo: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7126-3826

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Date deposited: 21 Jul 2020 16:32
Last modified: 13 Dec 2021 06:09

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Contributors

Author: Atta Addo
Author: PK Senyo ORCID iD

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