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(5) The North vs South debate - Issues of Access and Inequality

Aims and objectives

The aim of this section of the course is to explore the reality behind the idea of the "global village" put forward by the those who argue that the world is in the throes of an "Information Revolution".


This lecture will present material related to the spread of information systems throughout society. Several views will be discussed each of which could be analysed using the models/frameworks described in previous section. The focus of the lecture will be on the issues of access to sources of information and inequality These will initially be addressed from the viewpoint of the North vs South (1st World vs 3rd World) debate and then widened to consider issues of access and inequality within the so called "developed world". The material covered in this section will include:

  1. Diffusion models that appear, at their most basic, to put forward the idea that the real problem is one of access to the technology, e.g. the work of Palvia et al and Watson et al could be seen as providing evidence to support this view.
  2. Technology transfer models that appear to suggest that the underlying problem is on of the choices made by the nations that develop and manufacture the technology, e.g. the work of Bessant and Jayaweera might be seen as supporting this viewpoint.
  3. Political models that put forward a rather more complex view that suggests that the problem does not lie simply with access to technology or in the tactics of the developed nations but in the web of the internal politics of the countries themselves, e.g. Oguibe and Salimon might be seen as supporting this view.
  4. Models that suggest that the North vs South (1st World vs 3rd World) division is too simplistic and that even within the so called "developed world" there are issues of access and inequality that need to be addressed, e.g. Silverstone , MacKay and Huff and Finholt provide material to back up this viewpoint.
  5. Finally, material such as that by Baldwin approach the topic from a less deterministic viewpoint and suggest that the way in which technology is used is can change and evolve over time.

Using material from the lectures, your reading and the web sites your objectives should be to identify:




  1. IT(1) - Information Technology: Social Issues - A Reader, Ed. Finnegan. R, Salaman. G and Thompson. K., The Open University/Hodder and Stoughton., 1994.
  2. IT(2) - Information Technology and Society: A Reader, Ed Heap. N., Thomas. R., Einon. G. and MacKay. H., The Open University/Sage, 1994.
  3. SIC -Chap 10 in Social Issues in Computing, Huff. C and Finholt. T, McGraw Hill, 1994, pp 351 - 414

Some Additional Reading (to be supplied in the lecture)

  1. Chapter 1 - P. Palvia, P Shailendra and R. Zigli, Global Information Technology Environment: Key MIS Issues in Advanced and Less Developed Nations in P. Palvia, P Shailendra and R. Zigli (Eds), The Global Issues of Information Technology Management, Idea Group Publishing, 1992.
  2. Chapter 6 - R. Watson and J. Brancheau, Key Issues in Information Systems Management: An International Perspective. in Information Systems Research, (Ed) R. Galliers, Alfred Waller Ltd, 1992.
  3. R. Silverstone. Future imperfect: Media, Information and the Millennium. PICT Policy Research Paper No. 27, PICT, 1994.

Web Links

The following may also be of interest:

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