Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Britz, Johannes Jacobus firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-07212007-122555 Document Title A critical analysis of information poverty from a social justice perspective Degree DPhil (Information Science) Department Information Science Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Prof T J D Bothma Committee Chair Prof R Capurro Committee Chair Prof Y W Bradshaw Committee Chair Keywords
- economics of information
- human rights
- information and communication technologies
- social justice
- information poverty
Date 2007-04-25 Availability unrestricted AbstractInformation poverty is one of the main forms of poverty today that affects the lives of billions of people on a daily basis and as such it is argued in this thesis that this form of poverty should be on the world’s moral agenda – not merely as a discussion item but as an action item. It is furthermore argued that the information and knowledge society cannot be build without taking into consideration the moral challenges associated with this form of poverty.
The research question guiding this thesis is as follows: What is information poverty and why is it a serious moral issue that needs to be addressed today? To be able to answer this question five key issues are addressed. They are as follows:
-- The analysing, unpacking and understanding of the different dimensions and moral implications of poverty through the use of social sciences (Chapter 1).
-- The investigation and analyzing of the notion of information, specifically in terms of its relationship to poverty (Chapters 2 & 3).
-- The analysing, unpacking and understanding of information poverty, both in terms of its complexity as well as social, political, personal and moral dimensions (Chapter 4).
-- A reflection, from a social justice perspective, on the moral concerns associated with information poverty. This is done through the use of philosophy and social sciences (Chapter 5).
-- The development, based on social justice and human rights, moral guidelines that can be used to address the different moral concerns associated with information poverty (Chapter 6).
In Chapter 2 poverty is defined as that condition of life where the majority of people lack sufficient resources to supply their basic needs for survival. As such it indicates the socio-economic status of people and communities, together with its impact on just about every aspect of their lives. It is illustrated that poverty has a strong moral claim on society.
In Chapter 3 the notion of information is discussed from a diachronic perspective and an own approach to information is presented. Based on the three worlds of Popper different characteristics of information are identified and discussed. The implications of these characteristics on information poverty are illustrated.
Chapter 4 focuses on information poverty. A basic definition is presented and different degrees as well as levels of information poverty are also distinguished. It is argued that this form of poverty has an overall impact on the development of people.
In Chapter 5 information poverty as a serious moral issue is discussed. Following from this social justice in terms of its scope, application and functions is analysed with regards to information poverty. Based on the value statement that the alleviation of information poverty serves a common good purpose, it is argued that there are two moral principles that meet the requirement of universal validity and that can be used to guide moral decision-making regarding information poverty. These are justice and human rights.
In Chapter 6 several moral guidelines, based on social justice, are presented that can be used to address the moral concerns raised by the condition of information poverty.
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