Ethnographic Epistemology

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Chapter 3. Research Setting


Chapter 1 and 2 importantly brought to bear the initial grand purpose of the thesis in understanding how e-government can lead to human development, the means of inquiry being ethnography and analysis using Grounded Theory. It was illustrated at a very high level how that initial purpose evolved to focus on how ICT can facilitate policy implementation in a development context as a result of the ethnographic immersion in the research setting. This chapter delineates the research setting.
Chapter 3 is structured as follows: Section 3.1 briefly presents the wider socio-economic,political and historical context of the research setting before expounding on the particular research setting, Section 3.2. The iterative process of analysis is presented as part of each sub-section.

South Africa

Socio-economic Context of South Africa

South Africa is located at the southern coast of Africa (Figure 2.1) and has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world (Table 2.1). The UNDP indicators of development are in sharp contrast to the more familiar development indicators of the World Bank based on the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. The World Bank considers South Africa as an upper-middle income economy with a GNI per capita of US $5,390.00 (World Bank, 2008).South Africa has the second highest economic and social disparities in the world (CIA, 2009) with a semblance of two economies; a highly developed economy where middle and high income individuals live in environments with excellent infrastructure, and a highly undeveloped economy where 43.2% live under the poverty line in despicable conditions (Statistics South Africa, 2009). These disparities are manifestations of the important history that shapes South Africa, as discussed next.

A Brief Historical Context of South Africa

The earliest modern inhabitants of the present day Republic of South Africa are historically said to be the San people, whose descendants still live in the more remote parts of the Kalahari. The San believed that all people were equal and could use the land as a free resource. The migrant Bantu and Khoi Khoi populations, however, believed in land ownership. The indigenous tribes of South Africa are predominantly a result of these three populations or the proceeding intermarriages. The system of governance at the time was through chiefs assisted by an assembly of elders (Were, 1974, Ross, 1999).The first non-African settlers to South Africa arrived from Holland in 1652 with slaves from Java, Madagascar and West Africa to set up a calling station (Were, 1974, p. 20). Over time the slaves intermingled with the European settlers resulting in a mixed race community of the Cape presently referred to as the Coloureds.The Dutch settlers relegated menial tasks to the Coloured and the ‘indigenous’ populations.By the end of the 17th century the Dutch attitude began to evolve into a policy of racial distinction and racial superiority (Were, 1974, p. 23). The racial distinctions were exacerbated towards the end of the 18th century with the British occupation of the Cape resulting in two dominant European groups; the English speaking whites who owned most of the commerce, and the Dutch speaking farmers called Boers.Tensions between the European groups became evident with the abolition of slave trade in 1833, a move which was detested by the Boers. The Boers eventually decided to venture inland for new areas in what is regarded as the Great Trek. The Boers established various Boer republics as they settled. The other reason given for the Great Trek, apart from a desired independence from the British, was the preservation of what the Boers regarded as “‘the chosen race’, God’s own people” (Were, 1974, p. 52). The Boer trekkers believed that God had particularly given to them the non-whites, the ‘indigenous’ Africans and Coloured populations, as their eternal slaves. This latter Boer ideology had a deteriorating effect on the relations between whites and Africans.

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List of Figures 
List of Tables 
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations 
1.1. Introduction 
1.2. The Development Inclination of the South African Government 
1.2.1 Batho Pele
1.2.2 Ubuntu
1.3. Research Background 
1.3.1 Role of the Researcher
1.4. Problem Statement & Research Questions 
1.5. Contributions to Knowledge 
1.5.1 Theoretical Contribution
1.5.2 Practical Contributions
1.6. Structure of the Thesis 
2.1. Introduction 
2.2. Ethnography 
2.2.1 Ethnographic Epistemology
2.2.2 Theory in Ethnography
2.2.3 Ethnography in the Information Systems Field
2.2.4 Limitations of Ethnography and Thesis Proposed Solutions
2.2.5 Defending the Means of Inquiry
2.3. Data Analysis 
2.3.1 Grounded Theory
2.3.2 Methodologies of Grounded Theory – Emergence vs. Forcing
2.3.3 Grounded Theory Methodology by Strauss and Corbin
2.4. Summary of Research Design
3.1. Introduction 
3.2. South Africa 
3.2.1 Socio-economic Context of South Africa
3.2.2 A Brief Historical Context of South Africa
3.2.3 Analytic Memo: History of South Africa
3.3. Research Setting 
3.3.1 Lebotloane
3.3.2 Siyabuswa
3.3.3 University of Pretoria
3.3.4 Analytic Memo: Comparing the Research Sites
3.4. Summary and Implications for the Thesis 
4.1. Introduction 
4.2. Background of the PAJA Project 
4.3. The Approach of the PAJA Project – thinkLets
4.3.1 Workshop Preparation
4.4. The PAJA Project Process – Workshops
4.4.1 Workshop Activity 1: Social Interactions
4.4.2 Workshop Activity 2: PAJA Project Overview & Recap
4.4.3 Workshop Activity 3: Explanation of the PAJA Act
4.4.4 Workshop Activity 4: Practical Session on PAJA Act
4.4.5 Workshop Activity 5: Formal Research Feedback
4.5. The PAJA Project Outputs
4.5.1 First and Second Milestones
4.5.2 Third Milestone
4.5.3 Fourth Milestone
4.5.4 Fifth Milestone
4.5.5 Sixth Milestone
4.5.6 Seventh Milestone
4.5.7 Eighth Milestone
4.5.8 Ninth Milestone
4.6. Summary and Implications for the Thesis 
5.1. Introduction 
5.2. Development 
5.2.1 The Causes of Deprivation
5.2.2 Implementing Development
5.2.3 Key issues in Development
5.2.4 Analytic Memo: Thesis Thoughts on Development
5.3. Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach 
5.3.1 ICT and the Capabilities Approach
5.3.2 The Capabilities Approach and Ubuntu
5.4. ICT for Development – ICT4D 
5.4.1 Socio-economic improvements through locally situated action
5.4.2 Socio-economic improvements through transfer and diffusion of ICT
5.4.3 ICT does not necessarily result in development for all, it is subject to the power dynamics of IS innovation action
5.4.4 ICT does not necessarily result in development for all, the transfer and diffusion of ICT leads to uneven development
5.4.5 Gaps in ICT4D
5.5. Concluding thoughts on Development and ICT4D
5.6. ICT in government: E-government 
5.6.1 Measuring E-government
5.6.2 E-government Maturity Models
5.6.3 E-government in South Africa
5.6.4 Gaps in E-government
5.6.5 Collaboration
5.6.6 100
5.6.7 E-Collaboration
5.6.8 Collaboration Engineering using thinkLets
5.7. Concluding Thoughts from the Literature Review 
6.1. Introduction 
6.2. Deriving the Substantive Theory 
6.3. The Substantive Theory 
7.1. Introduction 
7.2. Grounded Theory Comparison of Theories 
7.3. Comparing the Substantive Theory with Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action 
7.4. Comparing the Substantive Theory with Actor Network Theory
7.5. Discussion after Engagement with the ANT and TCA 
8.1. Introduction 
8.2. Theoretical Contributions 
8.3. Practical Contributions 
8.4. Limitations and Areas for Further Research 
8.5. Concluding Remarks 


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