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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 4. Contextual Analysis: Interactions With Social Settings

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CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS

Interactions With Social Settings

Introduction

China is currently experiencing an enormous social transformation, with impact across the whole country. Residents from rural counties are inevitably involved in this wave of national change. A wide range of new ways of engaging the productivity of the nation—from traditional grains providers to the huge number of working immigrants flowing to urban areas—is driving rural residents to extend their interaction across the whole socio-economic setting, in order to keep pace with a changing society. Meanwhile, as Castells explains (2000), as internet technology expands its range and deepens its social penetration, a society networked beyond geographic barriers is emerging worldwide, bringing about a series of revolutionary changes across various social and economic dimensions.

As a major participant in the new global economy (Pigott 2002), China, especially in relation to its rural communities, is like other under-developed regions: historically at a phase of development marked by a binary logic. Ongoing industrialization, itself a powerful change-agent within social relations, is accompanied by the global transition towards an informational or network-based society. Together, these two phases of development are producing the informatization advocated by China’s government (General Office ← 91 | 92 → of the CPC Central Committee and General Office of the State Council 2006). The diffusion of the internet, as part of this socio-economic transformation, must also therefore be examined from the perspective of a dual social-transformational process. Not only are...

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