Information Determinism: The Consequences of the Faith in Information
Janaki Srinivasan, Megan Finn, and Morgan Ames
We identify and examine the assumption of information determinism that is commonplace in policy arenas: that mere access to the “right information” will precipitate desired actions. Our analysis focuses on implications of information determinism in three cases: California disaster response plans in the 1980s, an Indian development project in the 1990s, and an education project directed at the Global South in the 2000s. Our analyses shows that planning based on information deterministic assumptions tends to overlook the sociomaterial circumstances of information production and circulation, including how social structures and materiality shape information in practice. Further, they imbue what we call ‘information’ with the agency to bring about change. While we do not deny that ‘information’ can be useful, we argue that policy needs to move away from information deterministic thinking and its singular focus on information access to address the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations.
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