Impact of Communication Technologies on Political and Economic Development
- Joe Owczarski
Modern-day society is witnessing the continuous creation of innovative mediums concerning communications technology that are not only convenient to use but inexpensive as well. Such digital communication tools include mobile phones, smart phones, and the Internet. It is not a secret that they have been successful in bringing a drastic revolution in the methods of information-sharing and communication. It is not surprising that these innovative technologies have impacted every aspect of peoples’ lives, be it political, religious, educational, professional, social, or economical.
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Innovations in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have not only increased the availability of innumerable products and services but have also reduced their prices. As a result, the inexpensiveness of and accessibility to ICTs have caused a great reduction in “the costs associated both with doing business and with organizing social and political movements” (Hart, 2010). The cheap availability of ICTs has also declined the costs of communication and transportation.
From an economic point of view, there have been declines in the costs related to coordination and transaction. These declining patterns have consequently made the international trade and capital investment to reach extremely high levels. In addition, the cost reductions have also lessened the significance of geographical distances in international business. As distance has lost its importance in today’s digitalized world, there has been an increase in both political and economic activities due to the trending globalization (Hart, 2010).
Impact of Cheap Communication Technologies on Politics and Political Development
As far as politics is concerned, the inexpensive communication technologies have made a tremendous impact on both domestic and worldwide political phenomenon. In particular, the Internet and social media has contributed greatly in the development of political context and understanding. The blogs as well as the discussions and arguments that are conducted on the Web have provided people a platform to openly voice their views and beliefs regarding political aspects. Although a lot of people argue that social media and related communication technologies have nothing to contribute to politics; many oppose this point of view. Cheap communication technologies have played a major role in the contemporary era for making political processes more free, autonomous, and independent (Unwin, 2012).
It would not be incorrect to state that the ICTs have offered exceptional liberties to the common man who is now able to dramatically impact the political phenomenon through cell phones, the Internet, and the social media sites. Communication technologies have emerged as a powerful tool for the politicians and governments as well. The political leaders and governmental authorities are capable of spreading their messages, agendas, and policies to the general public, directly and cheaply. For instance, mobile text messaging is now used by both political parties and governments to encourage public to vote for them in elections (Unwin, 2012).
Likewise, the Internet and the social media is also playing a central role in making people aware about the current incidents that take place worldwide. Detailed stories and images enable people to receive the latest information about political movements and happenings around the world. In this manner, cheap communication technologies have enhanced global awareness. The example of Syria is an important one. This is because social media sites and other communication mediums have made people aware of the continuing conflicts in Syrian regime (Unwin 2012).
It is true that the globalization phenomenon has interconnected the states and people. This interconnectedness has also influenced the opinions of people who use communication technologies to share their opinions with others. On a global level, globalization has also undermined the concept of a sovereign state. States are now interdependent due to global policies that have made it impossible for them to shield themselves from external influences.
As people are beginning to use cheap communication technologies more progressively, there have been improvements in the overall communication between people belonging to diverse political regimes. These enhancements in ICTs have made it possible for people to share information and knowledge rapidly and easily. Moreover, the cheap communication technologies have also enhanced the fusion of different cultures. In addition, the acquired awareness has made people question the governmental authorities. As a matter of fact, revolutionary innovations in ICTs have undermined the autonomous and monarch status of particular political systems, such as the one in Middle East (Unwin, 2012).
It can be concluded that the contemporary ICTs have offered remarkable opportunities to people to modify the rules of the long-established political game. On the other hand, even though cheap ICTs have tremendously changed the international political map, this revolution has not particularly affected the marginalized and poor people. Without a doubt the use of cheap communication technologies has impacted the political development and processes. Nevertheless, it completely depends on the individual’s observation whether he considers it a good or bad change (Healey, 2011).
Impact of Cheap Communication Technologies on Economy and Economic Development
As mentioned, communication technology in the current era has become extraordinarily cheap, user-friendly, and accessible. Although ICTs are taken for granted by people, communication devices and services have been triumphant in transforming economies as well as the lives of millions of people throughout the world. It is significant to mention that cheap communication technologies are being used by people in the developing countries in greater ways as compared to people belonging to the developed world.
The penetration of information and communication technologies has a considerable impact on the economic development. ICTs have opened up new avenues for supporting economy in the recent times. Cheap communication technologies are acknowledged to have a significant impact on economic growth as they are affecting education, health sectors, agricultural output, income, poverty, and living standards.
Communication technologies have tremendously facilitated the attainment and taking in of knowledge. They have offered extraordinary opportunities to developing countries for the enhancement of their educational systems, improvement of policy making and implementation, and widening of the assortment of opportunities for both affluent and the poor. It is important to highlight that ICTs have contributed in reducing the sense of isolation tolerated by poorest members of the society. It is not a secret that when poor are provided sufficient opportunities, they also contribute in the economic development of the country by playing their productive part. Thus, cheap communication technologies have opened access to knowledge, education, and employment in ways that could not be imagined in the past times (Reddi, 2011).
The issues prevalent in society today mostly revolve around poverty. The economic development of a region principally depends on the standard and acquisition of education. This is because an educated society can efficiently and effectively work for the progression and development of its country. This realization has made almost every country to expand its demand for education at every level for the political, social, and economic development. However, many countries give limited budgets to their education sectors after facing the contrasting demand for better investment in resources that are necessary for human survival (food, shelter, etc.). However, the utilization and employment of communication technologies have offered alternate solutions to provide access and impartiality to students and teachers. ICTs have also suppressed the need for building schools and colleges. Instead, they have provided the concept of e-learning for convenient teaching and learning (Reddi, 2011).
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Cheap information and communication technologies have provided agriculturalists and farmers with opportunities to increase their yield and productivity, thus leading to economic progression. Mobile technology is considered to be an outstandingly critical tool for the improvement and enhancement of the competence of the agriculture and food sectors. Not only this, it is also regarded as a potential catalyst to help in raising the incomes of innumerable poor farmers found all over the world. This augmented efficiency is exceedingly important as it could lead to food losses in smaller quantity. A decrease in food losses means the growing demand for sufficient and inexpensive supplies of healthy food could be met eventually. When people are provided with self-sufficient resources, economy develops and grows automatically (Kirk, Steele, Delbé & Crow, 2011).
The cheap communication technologies, especially mobile services, have enabled businesses, companies and organizations to directly contact and interact with different members in the value chain. This interrelation has also helped in visibility of issues, competence and excellence. The best potential benefits for the smallholder farmers can be spawned by enabling them to take advantage of mobile financial payments and mobile information provision. In India, for instance, the smallholder farmers of remote areas have benefitted from this service greatly as the mentioned services have each brought approximately 40% of the total anticipated raise in agricultural revenues (Kirk, Steele, Delbé & Crow, 2011). As a result, the country’s economy has grown significantly. In short, ICTs have enabled poor families to diminish their everyday expenditures related to physical labor, time, and energy. As a result, communication technologies have caused an exceptional positive impact on the incomes and livelihoods of many rural families.
Communication technologies have also facilitated the reduction of “information gaps and restrictions inherent in marketplaces where consumers and producers have little means of comparing commodity prices between distant markets” (Zambrano & Seward, 2010). ICTs are presently working as a catalytic tool in the improvement and expansion of development programming. In addition, the advancement in mobile technologies and their accessibility to rural areas have also contributed towards sustainable development. Thus, the technological change has introduced ways that have made the economic growth sustainable. The communication technologies are, in fact, sustainable technologies that are helping people and governments meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Beder, 2006).
Communication technologies have offered equal economic and employment opportunities to people who reside in cosmopolitan and rural areas. ICTs have not only increased productivity but have also made the market work extremely efficient. However, it is important to highlight that the extent of the economic growth outcomes can be different. ICT is a platform that has reached and will reach populations that have low literacy and income levels.
Consequently, ICT is emerging as the leading distribution platform that provides public and private services to innumerable people. As there was no or negligible connectivity mediums in rural areas, the underdeveloped areas did not receive the deserved services and facilities. However, the emergence of ICTs has made it possible for underprivileged people to access financial services, market information, health services, and education services. In contrast, it is evident in the present times that the wireless platform has promoted new and innovative social and economic opportunities for the poor populace at all levels.
In closing, cheap communication technologies have brought significant changes in the traditional ways of socialization, business tasks’ execution, education attainment, and delivery of services. High-speed Internet, in particular, has changed the ways of doing businesses, transformation of public service delivery, and democratization of innovation. There is no doubt in the fact that the businesses that are using cheap communication technologies have demonstrated more production, faster growth, increased investment, and high profits. Similarly, governments and political parties that have employed cheap communication technologies are also receiving better outcomes in the development of democratic political structure.
In short, cheap information and communication technologies have revealed a transformative power on a global level. It is important for the governments to realize the importance of ICT potentials and educate the populations about them in order to reduce poverty, increase economic development, and develop a fine political sense. Therefore, steps must be taken to educate people about the significance of employing ICTs in positive ways for the development and progression of today’s global village.
Beder, S. (2006).Environmental Principles and Policies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Hart, J. (2010). Information Technologies and the Global Political Economy. InThe International Studies Encyclopedia. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Healey, J. (2011).Social Impacts of Digital Media. Thirroul, N.S.W.: Spinney Press.
Reddi, U. R. V. (2011).Primer 1: An Introduction to ICT for Development. Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT).
Unwin, T. (2012, September 1). Social Media and Democracy: Critical Reflections. Retrieved November 28, 2014, from http://www.cpahq.org/cpahq/cpadocs/Unwin CPA Social media and democracy.pdf
Kirk, M., Steele, J. Delbé, C. & Crow, L. (2011). “Connected Agriculture: The Role of Mobile in Driving Efficiency and Sustainability in the Food and Agriculture Value Chain.”Vodafone. Retrieved November 29, 2014, from http://www.vodafone.com/content/dam/vodafone/about/sustainability/2011/pdf/connected_agriculture.pdf
Zambrano, R., & Seward, R. (2010). Mobile Technologies and Empowerment: Enhancing Human Development Through Participation and Innovation. Retrieved November 29, 2014, from http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpan048480.pdf
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