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Pedro Pereira Neto - Social Inclusion, ICTs, And Cultural and Memory Organizations

Pedro Pereira Neto - Social Inclusion, ICTs, And Cultural and Memory Organizations

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Published by Pedro Pereira Neto

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Pedro Pereira Neto on Aug 05, 2010
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07/12/2011

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S
OCIAL
I
NCLUSION
, ICT
S
,
AND
C
ULTURAL
 
AND
M
EMORY
O
RGANIZATIONS
:
AN
 
INSIGHT
 
TO
 
THE
P
ORTUGUESE
 
STATE
-
OF
-
THE
-
ART
0.Addressing Social Exclusion
As a starting point to a venture such as the one intended, a clearlyidentifiable definition for the concept of
 social exclusion
is needed, so toestablish the phenomena addressed by the action of the CMOs subjectto analysis. In this sense, we draw on the Community Services Grouppostulate, according to which «
 social exclusion focuses on the needs of groups and individuals who are excluded from services (as those offeredby libraries, museums and archives)
» (Community Services Group, xxxx).Stating that «(…)
people with certain backgrounds andexperiences are disproportionately likely to suffer social exclusion
»(Community Services Group, xxxx), the same study holds that among therisk factors considered to play a key role are contexts such as those of«(…)
low income; family conflict; being in care; school problems; beingan ex-prisoner; being from an ethnic minority; living in a deprivedneighbourhood in urban and rural areas; mental health problems, ageand disability
(…),
 refugees and asylum seekers, travellers who are notconsidered to be from an ethnic minority, and LGBTs (lesbians, gay men,bisexuals and transgendered people, people with basic skills needs, single parents
» (Community Services Group, xxxx), as well as theunemployed.At the level of identifiable social dynamics, there is a differentapproach possible, which regards the defining characteristics of socialexclusion, namely «(…)
the habit of non-participation, the habit of isolation, and a perceived lack of opportunity and choice
» (CommunityServices Group, xxxx), as well as lack of access to power, knowledgeservices and facilities.
1.ICTs and Social Inclusion
 
According to a cyber-optimistic perspective, current technologyallows, as never before in the History of Mankind, for the broadcastingand enhancing of knowledge and available information (Oliveira, 2000).Ongoing processes of informationalization and globalization of westernsocieties, motivated by diverse networks of power and technology, arereshaping the world (Castells, 1997). Assuming, as Paquete de Oliveiradoes, that «
Information
is the new name for 
Development 
», and that«
Knowledge
is the new indicator for a nation’s or region’s wealth andheritage
» (Oliveira, 2000), information-based processes of decisionmaking are changing the lives of citizens everywhere (Webster, 2001: 5),to significant levels of extent and depth. And as Pickerill puts it, ICTs aremore than just an extension of existing forms of communication sincethey offer a variety of opportunities earlier unavailable (Pickerill, 2001:142). These are just some of the many reasons why, as Almeida writes,the access to ICTs should be considered a pre-condition for the qualityof life every citizen is entitled to (Almeida, xxxx), and why the access toinformation they make possible is crucial to the advent of an actualintervening and informed citizen in a truly democratic society (Colodrón,2000).However, a technical determinism may not be any better thanother determinisms (Rocher, 1989: 26). Although it is unquestionable thatthe ICTs do set new horizons for the coming of a Knowledge Society, thelatter will only come to be once the inequities inherited from theIndustrial Society are overcome, something which is not taking placeaccording to some scholars (Dordoy and Mellor, 2001: 173; Lyon, 1992).As Rocher states, the technical factor is an important variable, but wecannot assess the real influence it exerts without addressing the culturalcontext in which it is inscribed (Rocher, 1989: 29). We should bear in mindthat the access to such technologies is not – and will not become in thenear future universal. But, according to Hamelink, even themassification of computer usage does not, by itself, change the existing
 
social inequity at the level of access to and control of such usage (Lyon,1992; Dordoy and Mellor, 2001: 174): on the one hand, because the ICTsthemselves may well be intensifying some of these inequity generatingprocesses (Dordoy and Mellor, 2001: 181), since the vast majority of itsusers are among the already info-literate ones (Pickerill, 2001: 143); onthe other hand, because, as Colodrón wisely states, since social andtechnological exclusion implies an absence of cultural andtechnological skills, the simple access to information, even if on a freebasis, does not in itself guarantee the fulfilling of its potential benefits;specific skills, a particular kind of technological capital, are required totackle it exclusion (Colodrón, 2000; Ford, Gil, 2000: 204).
2.CMOs and Social Inclusion
In accordance with Silva,
information
only becomes fruitful whenturned into
knowledge
, the true promoter of development, wealth andwell-being; the bigger the ability of a given country and its institutions toconvert information in knowledge, the bigger the potential benefits for itscitizens (Silva, 20xx). In a democratic society, Rego states, everyone must – and should be allowed the opportunity to – be informed, so to exercisecompetent citizenship; and this can only be possible through the accessto
information
(Rego, 2000).Fritzinger writes the question of information – and of informationtechnologies – is central to libraries (Fritzinger, 2000). One of the fields inwhich this statement is noticeable is its role in enhancing the knowledgepossessed by the people, and its action in compensating existinginequities in the technological capital held by the citizens.According to Calixto, the spreading of the use of ICTs accentuatesthe importance of the social roles played by CMOs. These, particularlypublic libraries, have had a democratic matrix since their birth (Calixto,20xx), since they offer indiscriminating access to information (Colodrón,2000). In line with this scholar, democracy implies the existence of

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