This thesis develops an intersectional, critical analysis of the field of practice known as Civic Tech and highlights other relevant community-organizing and activist practices that utilize technology as a central component. First, I develop critiques of Civic Tech as a dominant technocratic, neoliberal approach to democracy and bureaucracy and trace the history and intellectual genealogy of this specific movement. I then highlight civic technologies outside of the field of Civic Tech that have resulted in more redistributive and democratic outcomes, especially for Black people and other people of color. Finally, I define a research and design practice called Critical Community Technology Pedagogy that is demystificatory, multi-directional, transferable, and constructive, and draws upon examples from the Civic Lab for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) in Newfoundland, Data DiscoTechs in Detroit, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy in New York City.
About Maya Wagoner
Maya M. Wagoner is currently a research assistant at the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation, working on a participatory action research project to understand the people in the field of technology for social justice. She is broadly interested in building digital platforms with principles of social justice, collaborative design, and critical pedagogy. Prior to studying at MIT, she grew up all around California, worked as a UX designer and usability researcher, and was an organizer of both the UC Santa Cruz African/Black Student Alliance and Code for San Francisco.