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Utility Drives Adoption

Understanding Internet Accessibility in Rural China

Mingrui Ye

Utility Drives Adoption: Understanding Internet Accessibility in Rural China addresses the deep digital divide in China by exploring the reasons behind the lagging adoption of the internet in rural communities. With a four-year study and in-depth investigation into a number of rural communities across China, author Mingrui Ye unfolds a picture of internet use in rural villages and answers the questions why and in what scenario rural residents will or will not adopt internet-based digital devices like laptops or tablets.

Additionally, this book contributes to diffusion theory with a newly established research model, by which new determinants responsible for internet adoption were discovered and mutual relations between influential factors at different levels revealed. A series of solutions to improve the adoption rate of the internet in rural China are suggested for implementation at multiple levels. Utility Drives Adoption not only provides a deeper understanding of internet adoption in rural communities but also revisits the theory of innovation diffusion with newly developed perspectives and research models. This book serves as a useful guide for researchers and students in relevant fields to further explore internet utility and adoption in rural China.

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Chapter 1. Introduction


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“The speed of a flotilla is not determined by the fastest ship, but the slowest one” (Wen 2007). In contemporary China, the urban-rural dual structure is increasingly becoming one of the most conspicuous and urgent issues for the nation. As the largest developing country in the world, China has an enormous agricultural population which is nearly half of the whole (National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC) 2012b). China’s rural residents, compared with those who live in well-developed urban areas, have less power over public opinion formation and policy making, as well as the deployment of public resources and the distribution of social wealth, although their voice has been gradually rising in recent years (Wang 2004).

It is widely considered that the present unequal conditions between rural and urban areas to a high degree were produced by long term economic and administrative dual frameworks (Lu 2009; Zhao 2004). Synchronizing industrialization and urbanization is accepted as a pivotal reason for the social and economic “dual” structure of China. The high-speed growth of eastern areas as the main force of China’s economic development is widening the gap between rural areas and the developed regions (Park 2008), and this is reflected in academic activity. In recent years, along with the huge growth in China’s ← 1 | 2 → economy and market, social researchers have increasingly concentrated on issues involving the industrialized and developed regions rather than problems and phenomena associated with...

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