Madison Ardizzi’s MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “Bicycles for Development: Globalization and Perceptions of NGOs”
Supervisor: Dr. Brian Wilson (Kinesiology)
Committee Members: Dr. Lyndsay Hayhurst (York University), Dr. Moss Norman (Kinesiology)

Abstract: The bicycle has been hailed by The United Nations and various non-governmental organizations for its effective use in environmentally-friendly forms of social and economic development (Van der Kloof, Bastiaanssen & Marten, 2014; Yang & Wu, 2015). Despite these claims, there remains a lacuna of research exploring the value of the bicycle outside of Europe and America (Sengers, 2016). Specifically, there is a lack of research on: how bicycles are being used for development purposes in the Two-Thirds World; the politics and complexities of bicycle-driven development work; assumptions that underlie the use of bicycles for development purposes; the perspectives of those involved in such bicycle-driven development on their work and industry; and the structure and goals of organizations involved in ‘bicycles for development’ (BFD).

Responding to these shortcomings, the overarching goal of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of how bicycles are being used as an international development tool. The study will be guided by key studies and theories drawn from bodies of research on ‘sport for development and peace’ (Darnell, 2007; Coalter, 2010; Hayhurst 2013), neoliberal approaches to development (Chouliaraki, 2010; Hayhurst, 2014a/b; Wilson & Hayhurst, 2009) and post/colonialism (Carrington, 2015). The following questions will guide my research: (1) How is the bicycle being used as an international ‘development’ tool; (2) What are the characteristics of the various organizations involved in BFD (e.g., how are they structured; what are the goals and missions of these organizations?); (3) What assumptions about bicycles underlie their utilization for development purposes, and what are the perspectives of those involved in such bicycle-driven development on their work and industry; (4) What can be learned from the BFD movement about globalization processes and the impacts of technologies traveling to and within the Two-Thirds World?

Methodologically, my research will include interviews with representatives of BFD organizations in Uganda, analyses of online and offline materials pertinent to each organization, and observations of the office locations and areas where each organization does BFD-related work. This research will generate information about what BFD is, how it operates, and how it is understood in a particular national context where bicycle-driven forms of international development are prominent. Theoretically, the study is designed to enrich understandings of how processes of globalization are linked with technology and physical activity-related forms of aid. Practically speaking, the hope is that this research will inform thinking about the sorts of structures and processes that are in place that both support and hinder the work of those who are involved in BFD.