South Africa’s Socio-Techno divide: a critical discourse analysis of government speeches

W Chigona, M Pollock, JD Roode


This paper aims at contributing to the debate about the digital divide. We first focus on what to us constitutes the root problem:
the typical approaches to the development of people through and by the use of information and communication technologies
(ICT). In contrast to governmental, political and technological attempts that focus almost exclusively on providing access to
digital communication technologies, and expect “development” naturally to flow from that, we argue for a focus on
“development” which is based on our notion of sustainable socio-economic development. We refer to “technocentric
approaches” when the approaches propose and pursue technological interventions and show little regard for the actual needs of
the people involved. At the other end of the scale, where the focus is on people and their developmental needs, we will speak of
“sociocentric approaches”. This presents us with a different divide, which we will refer to as the “socio-techno divide”. We
argue that it is this divide that has to be addressed – not the digital divide – and then present an analysis of the socio-techno
divide. This analysis takes the form of two types of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), namely Foucauldian and Habermassian.
The analysis of the South African government’s rhetoric illuminates the issues that need our attention and indicates an agenda
for constructive engagement about the use of ICT for development in the Third and Fourth worlds.


Digital Divide; Human Scale Development; Socio-Economic Development; Critical Discourse Analysis

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