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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 3. An Overview of Symbolic Interactionism: Theoretical Framework and Methodological Approach


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Theoretical Framework and Methodological Approach


From a pragmatist perspective, humans respond to their surrounding environment with their own subjectivity foremost. In most situations, deciding what to notice and what to be interested in are dependent on practical utility, with humans aware of and assessing their own position. Partly derived from this insight, Symbolic Interactionism, profoundly influenced by the work of George Herbert Mead (1967, 1972), provides a way of viewing those situations in which humans interact with selves and external settings. More specifically, it serves as a method able to capture and assess the human experience behind such processes as the diffusion of the internet within rural China. On the one hand, it provides a set of concepts able to interpret understandings of the self; how the mind processes information; how we produce definitions of situations, or understand the role taking of others, or our own and their goals and actions. It offers a platform for analyzing social innovations, and the participants and the social settings of the diffusion of those innovations. On the other hand, as a process full of social interactions between individuals and their external environments, the diffusion of innovations contains its own key elements, also open to description and analysis through symbolic interactionist theory and techniques, including consideration for instance of the specific ← 55 | 56 → attributes of a given innovation, the diffusion networks which carry it, the change...

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