Catching the next wave : the use of the Internet by justice and development voluntary organisations and people organisations : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University
This thesis examines the extent to which third world organisations have participated in the shaping, control and benefits of development theory and practice. It concludes that development theory has been a creation of the first world acting upon the third world which is often perceived as powerless to help itself. Modernisation theory, development theory, alternative theories and neo-liberalism are all theories that developed out of the first world experience of development. Development theory has not been shaped by the third world rather it has been manipulated and controlled from within the first world. The very poor of the poorest countries have not benefited from development theory. Participation, also perceived as empowerment, has been lauded by development practitioners as the new panacea for development ills. Even though such participation is not so evident in reality, third world organisations are becoming more participatory, especially where first world organisations have changed their role from funder and provider to solidarity partners and advocators (within their own country). This thesis examined the potential of the Internet to increase the participation of third world organisations in voicing their justice and development issues to the first world. The Internet is only a participatory tool when used in a participatory environment. Its use will not necessarily ensure greater participation, of the third world, in development issues. As yet the Internet's potential is largely unrealised. This thesis conducted descriptive research into the extent that third world organisations use the Internet to further their justice and development objectives. The research found that third world use of the Internet was low compared to first world use of the Internet. This thesis recommends that the use of email subscription lists and World Wide Web sites by grassroots organisations from within third world countries is a unique opportunity to promote the third world perception of development issues to the first world.