Silvia Masiero

Silvia Masiero
University of Oslo · Department of Informatics

PhD

About

67
Publications
17,852
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
422
Citations
Introduction
My research focuses on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the field of socio-economic development. I study the multiple forms of embeddedness of the IT artefact in development policy and governance, with a specific interest in its participation in the politics of anti-poverty programmes. My current work revolves around the role of digital technologies in reshaping the politics of the Public Distribution System (PDS), the biggest food security scheme in India.
Additional affiliations
October 2014 - August 2016
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Position
  • Research Officer
September 2014 - August 2016
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Position
  • Fellow
September 2012 - July 2014
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Position
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant

Publications

Publications (67)
Article
Full-text available
The theory of design-reality gaps is an extant framework to explain failure of information systems in developing nations. This paper problematizes the nature of failure, with a particular focus on situations in which well-implemented systems, apparently corresponding to users’ views of reality, still fail to meet the expectations of their key stake...
Conference Paper
Given an emerging literature within the Information Systems (IS) field in the role of technology in social (in)justice and forced migration, in this research-in-progress paper we present preliminary findings from a longitudinal study with Syrian refugees (2018–present), which aims to understand the role of technology in refugees’ journeys from depa...
Article
Full-text available
The production of knowledge in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) research has been characterised by an ongoing shift from dominantly Western-based to Indigenous theory formulations. This editorial puts forward core concepts in the decolonisation of ICT4D, arguing that these are fundamental to the creation, reading and...
Article
Full-text available
“Patching Development” is a theory of change, and more specifically a theory of what leads to change in anti-poverty schemes whose enactment conditions the lives of millions of people. A software-inspired terminology, a contribution for literatures that go from public policy to information and communication technology for development (ICT4D), but f...
Article
Full-text available
Theories used in the Information Systems (IS) field come in large majority from authors based in Western countries, a bias that holds for critical theories as well. Such a bias is made more problematic by the mandate of critical theory, which is meant exactly to illuminate the oppressive conditions of the status quo. Against this backdrop, this pap...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The fields of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and critical data studies have been historically distinct from each other, each bearing different histories and research foci. However, recent evolutions of ICT4D have problematised the focus on "development" that originally characterised the field, and shifted to an a...
Preprint
Full-text available
The role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in relation to issues of forced migration has come to the attention of the Information Systems (IS) literature. In this paper we review the interdisciplinary research on the topic, seeking to identify the main discourses in it. Three discourses-respectively centred on the migrant as a su...
Article
Full-text available
In over 30 years of history, the field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) has asserted itself both within Information Systems (IS) and across disciplines. However, the core assumptions on which the field was built have been questioned over time, resulting in a situation in which such assumptions-on development, the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Governments in developing countries have monopoly over a range of goods and services that affect the lives and livelihoods of citizens. From the provision of public goods and social services, to being the largest employer, governments in developing countries play a disproportionately large role than governments in developed countries where the priv...
Chapter
Full-text available
Over the last several years, India has gradually introduced biometric identification of users in most of its social welfare schemes. One of its main schemes is the Public Distribution System (PDS), the nation’s largest food security programme, which provides rationed subsidized commodities to the nation’s poor through a network of shops. Biometric...
Article
Full-text available
Digital identity platforms are widely regarded as important means to improve social protection systems. Yet these platforms have been implicated in the production of a range of unintended outcomes for development beneficiaries. To clarify how digital identity platforms enable the production of one such outcome that we call degenerative, because it...
Article
Full-text available
Digital identity platforms allow the construction of complements on a centralised core, enabling user identification for private and public services. While presenting all traits characteristic of innovation platforms, digital identity platforms are curiously understudied in the Information Systems literature, largely as a result of a limited focus...
Preprint
Full-text available
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionally affecting vulnerable people and deepening pre-existing inequalities (Dreze, 2020; Qureshi, 2021), have interested the very same "development" processes that the IFIP Working Group 9.4 on the Implications of Information and Digital Technologies for Development has dealt with over time. A global...
Preprint
Full-text available
This article reports from an ongoing 'evaluation for improvement' action research and participatory design project in Rwanda, where the aim is to improve data use practices and the capabilities of the District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2), an open source health information management platform, to support data use. The study of data use at...
Preprint
Full-text available
While digital social protection systems have been claimed to bring efficacy in user identification and entitlement assignation, their data justice implications have been questioned. In particular, the delivery of subsidies based on biometric identification has been found to magnify exclusions, imply informational asymmetries, and reproduce policy s...
Preprint
Full-text available
Gender bias, a systemic and unfair difference in how men and women are treated in a given domain, is widely studied across different academic fields. Yet, there are barely any studies of the phenomenon in the field of academic information systems (IS), which is surprising especially in the light of the proliferation of such studies in the Science,...
Article
Full-text available
Voicing systematically marginalised communities is a problem historically posed in the media and communications field, in terms of de-Westernisation and, more radically, cosmopolitanism. Such a problem has been magnified in the COVID-19 pandemic, with narratives from systematically devoiced communities – ranging from migrants to informal workers, e...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Theories used in the Information Systems (IS) field come in large majority from authors based in Western countries, a bias that holds for critical theories as well. Such a bias is made more problematic by the mandate of critical theory, which is meant exactly to illuminate the oppressive and alienating conditions of the status quo. Against this bac...
Book
Full-text available
CONFERENCE THEME: RESILIENT ICT4D The COVID-19 emergency has posed a heavy burden on health infrastructures in the developing world. As an unprecedented crisis, the pandemic has had severe social, redistributional and economic impacts on vulnerable groups, affecting the development processes that the IFIP Working Group 9.4 on Implications of Infor...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
While digital social protection systems have been claimed to bring efficacy in user identification and entitlement assignation, their data justice implications have been questioned. In particular, the delivery of subsidies based on biometric identification has been found to magnify exclusions, imply informational asymmetries, and reproduce policy s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Gender bias, a systemic and unfair difference in how men and women are treated in a given domain, is widely studied across different academic fields. Yet, there are barely any studies of the phenomenon in the field of academic information systems (IS), which is surprising especially in the light of the proliferation of such studies in the Science,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Discourse on data justice during the COVID-19 pandemic has problematised the techno-solutionism resulting in largely indiscriminate repurposing of technology towards disease surveillance. While studies of COVID-19 tracking are being conducted from a data justice perspective, these are yet to be put into explicit relation with issues, such as condit...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionally affecting vulnerable people and deepening pre-existing inequalities (Drèze, 2020; Qureshi, 2021), have interested the very same "development" processes that the IFIP Working Group 9.4 on the Implications of Information and Digital Technologies for Development has dealt with over time. A global...
Article
Purpose While digital labour platforms are being increasingly studied across the Global South, the existing literature does not conceptualise the theoretical link between such platforms and socio-economic development. This paper theorises such a link drawing on the notion of institutional voids defined, as in Khanna and Palepu (2010), as “the absen...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Digital labour is widely depicted as a carrier of economic opportunities for poor and marginalised individuals. Such an orthodoxy is however questioned from research pointing at the structural vulnerabilities of digital work, vulnerabilities that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted on a global scale. The central contribution of this paper is that s...
Article
Full-text available
We pursue three main objectives in this editorial for the Special Issue on Identification in a Digital Age: Implications for Development. After outlining the motivations that led us to launch this Special Issue call, we first propose a framework to map the theoretical link between digital identity and human development, articulated in three dimensi...
Book
Full-text available
In the first pandemic of the datafied society, the disempowered were denied a voice in the heavily quantified mainstream narrative. Featuring stories of invisibility, injustice, hope and resistance, this book gives voice to communities at the margins in the Global South and beyond. The multilingual, polycentric and pluriversal narration invites the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Critical research is characterised by the coupling of theorisation and intended transformation of an oppressive status quo. Yet, Information Systems (IS) research depicts critical theory as hegemonised by the three Western streams led by Bourdieu, Foucault and Habermas, neglecting critical theories formulated and developed in and for the Global Sou...
Chapter
Full-text available
Extant literature on digital platforms is predominantly centred on the Global North, resulting in a paucity of research on the implications of digital platforms for developing countries. Against this backdrop, a recent research stream has focused on digital platforms in developing country contexts, with a view of understanding the affordances and l...
Chapter
Full-text available
Web-based instant messaging applications are predominant as means of Internet usage in rural settings. This becomes particularly interesting in the Indian rural context where applications like WhatsApp are accepted and used extensively, while the Internet is still rather an alien concept for a large part of the population. While adoption of these a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Gender bias is a systemic, unfair difference in the way men and women are treated in a particular domain. We conduct a thematic review of 82 papers out of 7,260 total papers found in the IS Basket of 8 journals that centre on themes related to gender, identifying extant domains of contribution and qualifying gaps in gender bias research. The papers...
Article
Full-text available
COVID-19 has hit a world in which social protection schemes are increasingly augmented with digital measures. Digital identity schemes are especially being adopted to match citizens' data with social protection entitlements, enabling authentication through demographic and, increasingly, biometric data at the point of access. In this commentary, I d...
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on the open-access collection Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives, in this paper Silvia Masiero identifies three themes for further research to address: how the pandemic is influencing and (re)shaping the digital systems related to social protection, how it is producing or amplifying data-induced injustices, and what constitutes...
Preprint
Full-text available
Digital labour is widely depicted as a carrier of economic opportunities for poor and marginalised individuals. Such an orthodoxy is however questioned from research pointing at the structural vulnerabilities of digital work, vulnerabilities that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted on a global scale. The central contribution of this paper is that s...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reflects on the author's nine-year research on the transformation of India's Public Distribution System (PDS) enacted through digital technologies first and, more recently, through Aadhaar's biometric infrastructure. Based on the experiences of two states, Kerala and Karnataka, which adopted biometric identification in their ration shops...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper reflects on the author's nine-year research on the transformation of India's Public Distribution System (PDS) enacted through digital technologies first and, more recently, through Aadhaar's biometric infrastructure. Based on the experiences of two states, Kerala and Karnataka, which adopted biometric identification in their ration shops...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Extant literature on digital platforms is predominantly centred on the Global North, resulting in a paucity of research on the implications of digital platforms for developing countries. Against this backdrop, a recent research stream has focused on digital platforms in developing country contexts, with a view of understanding the affordances and l...
Conference Paper
In this paper we examine how highly vulnerable migrants who exist at the margins of society use mobile phones to achieve a sense of belongingness and control in their precarious life situations. Drawing on the belongingness hypothesis from Baumeister and Leary (1995), we analyse ethnographic data collected during long-term fieldwork (2018-2019) amo...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose While the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) for poverty reduction is widely recognised, limited knowledge exists on its use in the social protection schemes devised for the world’s poor. Drawing on the institutionalist vision of IS development and organisational change put forward by Avgerou (2000), the authors pro...
Article
Full-text available
This paper seeks to illuminate the significance of datafication for anti-poverty programmes, meaning social protection schemes designed specifically for poor people. The conversion of beneficiary populations into machine-readable data enables two core functions of social protection, those of recognising entitled beneficiaries and assigning entitlem...
Chapter
In this paper we introduce the concept of Digital Social Entrepreneurship (DSE), which refers to the entrepreneurial work of social ventures centred on digital technologies. DSE presents one particular form of hybridity, related to the need to blend digital and non-digital capabilities in the same organisational unit. To understand how such capabil...
Article
This article constructs explanatory theory on trust in e-voting, a term that refers to the use of stand-alone IT artefacts in voting stations. We study e-voting as a techno-organisational arrangement embedded in the process of elections and the broader socio-economic context of a country. Following a critical realist approach, we apply retroduction...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The notion of datafication implies rendering existing objects, actions and processes into data. This research-in-progress paper focuses on the meaning of datafication for anti-poverty programmes, conceived as social welfare schemes designed specifically for poor people. Drawing on a state-level case study of the adoption of Aadhaar, India’s biometr...
Article
Full-text available
The need for formulation of solid explanatory theories is heightened in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) by the high incidence of failure, which involves substantial costs for the countries affected. A core argument of this paper is that a critical realist ontology offers intellectual tools that can ground the form...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Critical research has been advocated as capable to uncover multiple contradictions in ICT-induced development processes. This paper explores the potential of subaltern studies to contribute to the generation of critical theory in ICT4D. Following the postcolonial thought of Partha Chatterjee, the paper proposes a vision of subalternity centred on t...
Article
Does decentralisation promote clientelism? If yes, through which mechanisms? We answer these questions through an analysis of India’s (and the world’s) largest workfare programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), in two Indian states: Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh (AP). The two states adopted radically different...
Chapter
Social enterprises need to be ambidextrous, i.e. simultaneously pursue social and financial goals. In this paper we focus on how digital social entrepreneurs at the base of the pyramid implement ambidextrous strategies. We draw on a case study of Rang De, India’s first platform for the delivery of credit to the poor, whose ecosystem involves multip...
Article
Full-text available
This introduction to the Special Section sets out the rationale for our focus on gender, mobile, and mobile Internet. We explain our aims in planning a dedicated section and introduce each of the four selected articles across different country contexts. We examine how these articles juxtapose the theory and practice of empowerment. Finally, we rais...
Article
Full-text available
For many women in resource-constrained environments, mobile phones are the first and foremost information and communication technology (ICT) used. In theory the increasing pervasiveness of mobiles and mobile Internet across developing countries should provide growing opportunities to women, especially in terms of earning through small, on-the-fly j...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Information poverty, resulting from limited and distorted provision of relevant information on important matters, has increased the vulnerability of India's poor to the crisis initiated by the announcement of demonetisation in November 2016. In this paper we draw on a study of digital finance providers and informal street sellers in Bangalore, cond...
Article
Full-text available
The link between e-governance and accountability of state administrations for service provision has been problematized in the literature to date. However, little is known about its application to anti-poverty programmes, of which public workfare schemes are an increasingly important subset. In this paper we fill the gap with a study of MGNREGA, Ind...
Article
Full-text available
On a global scale, programmes of social protection for the poor are becoming increasingly computerised, and architectures of biometric recognition are being widely used in this respect. I research how these architectures, adopted in anti-poverty systems, structure ways to ‘see the state’ for citizens living in poverty. To do so I study India’s Publ...
Research
Full-text available
The idea that end-to-end computerisation can reduce public distribution system leakage has been theorised, but not yet examined in practice. This note tries to fill the gap by conducting a case study of the information technology system for PDS in Karnataka, which includes back-end software as well as a front-end interface. It reveals three drawbac...
Article
Full-text available
The idea that end-to-end computerization can reduce leakage from the PDS, the widest food security net in India, has been theorized and discussed, but not yet examined in practice. In this paper, we fill the gap by conducting a case study of the IT system for PDS in Karnataka, which includes back-end software as well as weighing-cum-point of sale m...
Article
Full-text available
The platform known as the JAM Trinity (an acronym for Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile numbers) may enable a shift from the current Public Distribution System, based on price subsidies, to the direct transfer of benefits. However, it is incorrect to argue that JAM technologies will necessarily lead to the demise of the PDS. State-level experienc...
Article
Full-text available
The platform known as the JAM Trinity (an acronym for Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile numbers) may enable a shift from the current Public Distribution System, based on price subsidies, to the direct transfer of benefi ts. However, it is incorrect to argue that JAM technologies will necessarily lead to the demise of the PDS. State-level experien...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The last few years have seen a rapid increase in the discussion of the role of new technologies in strengthening social safety nets. However, the hypothesis that technology design is intertwined with political agendas-aiming at instilling specific visions and policy objectives in anti-poverty programmes-has remained to a large extent unexplored, be...
Article
Full-text available
I study the computerization of the biggest Indian food security net, the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Kerala.•Computerization is purposefully aimed to fight leakage (“rice mafia”) in the PDS.•Computerization is used to construct new food security mechanisms, rather than just speeding up existing ones.•Two issues remain—partial coverage of th...
Thesis
Full-text available
The study of e-governance in developing nations is informed by the idea that new technologies, reshaping the very nature of public services, can generate better outcomes in their provision. Beyond objective changes in governance infrastructures, the subjective perception of the state, as it is constructed by service recipients, is exposed to a para...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study focuses on the role of public sector ICTs in reconstructing the image of the state, as conceived by developing country citizens. Drawing on contemporary readings of the Gramscian politics of the governed, I look at the Indian Public Distribution System (PDS), a food security net based on subsidization of foodgrains to the poor, as it is...
Article
Full-text available
The critical role of the information intermediary in supporting community participation in telecenters and community multimedia centers [CMCs] has been recognized for some time. However, the literature has largely taken a neutral/positive perspective (that the center manager/staff are necessary social connectors and should ensure equitable access)...
Article
Full-text available
The debate on development-led telecentre projects revolves around the concept of sustainability. Although it is accepted that telecentre sustainability has both a financial and a social dimension, the relationship between these two sides is sometimes axiomatically defined as one of mutual exclusion. Through the case study of the Akshaya Telecentre...

Projects

Projects (6)
Project
To explore the development, dissemination, implementation, and impact of DHIS2 metadata packages. These packages are typically developed by or in collaboration with international organizations, and made publicly available. Information about and the packages themselves can be found here https://dhis2.org/metadata/
Project
First, we aim to provide thought leadership to the IS community on how to tackle the varied and complex sustainability challenges. Second, we want to spur relevant, rigorous, and critical research in this domain that underscores the role of IS as a source of solutions and applicable knowledge for the attainment of the SDGs. Third, using the words of Geoff Walsham, our goal is to develop a stronger ethical agenda in IS research by focusing on how we can help “making a better world” (Walsham 2012).
Project
The COVID-19 emergency has posed a heavy burden on health infrastructures in the developing world. As an unprecedented crisis, the pandemic has had severe social, redistributional and economic impacts on vulnerable groups, affecting the development processes that the IFIP Working Group 9.4 on Implications of Information and Digital Technologies for Development has traditionally dealt with. With the new disease posing a development challenge for all nations, a global development paradigm (Oldenkop et al., 2020) emerged in studying responses to it. In the spirit of “making a better world” with ICTs that characterises the ethos of ICT4D (Walsham, 2012), engagements with such responses have interested our research during the pandemic. At the same time, ICT4D research on topics different from the ongoing crisis is itself influenced by the pandemic in diverse ways. Planning and conducting fieldwork in the forms we knew it became impracticable, with researchers having to resort to alternative ways to access respondents and field sites. Conferencing, and with it the interactions that are crucial to our academic growth have abruptly moved to the digital world, with new affordances (such as abating barriers of cost and travel) but also new constraints, connected to the digital recreation of a traditionally physical world. Resilience, seen with Heeks and Ospina (2019) as the ability of systems to cope with external shocks and trends, became crucial to us as ICT4D colleagues, both in the conduct of research and in the interactional aspects of our lives as academic community. Against this backdrop, a Resilient ICT4D is what has emerged from the COVID-19 crisis, and the theme inspiring our Virtual IFIP 9.4 Conference on Implications of Information and Digital Technologies for Development to take place on 26-28 May 2021. While pertaining to themes of ICT4D research in and beyond the pandemic, the tracks in the conference are underpinned by the need for a resilient attitude that, in the face of one of the greatest shocks ever suffered by humanity, keeps alive the spirit of “making a better world” with ICTs. :: Papers for IFIP 9.4 2021 Papers for the IFIP 9.4 Virtual Conference should be formatted according to the template for submissions to IFIP 9.4 conferences. Please note the word limits for full research papers (5000 words for text excluding abstract, diagrams, tables and references) and for research in progress/practitioner reports of experience and reflection (2500 words for text excluding abstract, diagrams, tables and references). Submissions should be sent to ifip94conference@gmail.com by the deadline of 30 March 2021. Please indicate “IFIP 9.4 Virtual Conference” in the subject line, and please ensure the email text specifies names, contact emails and affiliations for all authors, as well as the track to which the paper is submitted. :: Tracks for IFIP 9.4 2021: - ICT and Resilience Building: Climate Change, Pandemic, and Other Stressors - Digital Platforms in, from and in-between the Global South and North - Data Science in Public Health - ICT4D and Data Justice - Our Digital Lives (IFIP 9.5 Track) - Digital Social Enterprises & COVID-19: Enablers, Sustainability & Pathways - Feminist and Queer approaches to Information Systems in Developing Countries - Displacements, ICTs, and #NewNormal - Digital Authoritarianism and Fundamentalism: Problems and Solutions - The Role of ICT in Achieving Social Justice (ICT4SJ) - General Track :: Conference website: http://ifiptc9.org/wg94/ :: Conference Chairs: Silvia Masiero (silvima@ifi.uio.no) Petter Nielsen (pnielsen@ifi.uio.no) http://ifiptc9.org/wg94/ifip-9-4-conferences/ifip-9-4-virtual-conference-2021/