In her recent piece “Intimate technologies for affective development: how crowdfunding platforms commodify interpersonal connections” for Third World Quarterly, Dr Shonali Banerjee shares findings from her research with philanthropic crowdfunding platforms in India. Hailed by many as transformative fundraising tools for social development causes, crowdfunding platforms leverage the ties that connect individuals in pursuit of non-governmental organisation (NGO) fundraising.
Focusing on research conducted in 2018 with Indian platform LetzChange, Dr Banerjee’s article frames crowdfunding platforms as ‘intimate technologies for development’, exploring how they leverage different forms of social and digital capital from their NGO partners to shape power relations within the development sector. By examining how crowdfunding platforms train local NGO staff to market their projects in digitally affective ways on social media, she demonstrates the influence of modern technological tools that recreate affective social bonds and social capital in digital spaces for the purpose of mobilising donors.
Throughout the article, Dr Banerjee explores many themes within the Centre’s research interests, particularly when analysing the complicated landscape of social, digital and financial inequalities created within the crowdfunding process. She argues that affective digital practices like crowdfunding fall short of their inclusive aims and reinforce existing top-down power relations in the development sector by financially instrumentalising the interpersonal connections of NGO staff.
This article is based on a paper presented at the University of Birmingham during the Development Studies Association annual conference in June 2020.