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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 5. Diffusion Network Analysis: Interactions With the Immediate Environment


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Interactions With the Immediate Environment


While these sorts of interaction with broad social settings have revealed much of how rural Chinese residents respond to internet services, interplay with their immediate environment has a more direct effect on their predisposition towards adoption of the internet. Generally speaking, the most important social relations—those closest to personal interests—are those in the immediate environment. When it comes to the diffusion of the internet, innovation knowledge is mainly communicated in diffusion networks formed within an individual’s own social network. The roles attached to social ties, however, entail a range of social codes and cultural norms, taken up at the same time—so that potential internet-adopters participate in decision-making in relation to internet adoption, within established patterns of behaviour. This study thus needs to examine how a personal network influences the diffusion of the internet in contemporary Chinese rural communities.

The analysis in this chapter is mainly based on the results of questionnaire surveys conducted in Sichuan Province and Jiangxi Province, at the end of 2012. To secure reliability and to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the numerical data collected, a short interview was added, to complement each survey. In addition, results from the field investigations carried out in ← 135 | 136 → 2011 are integrated into this chapter, to deepen the analysis. Further detail from this field investigation phase will be presented in the next chapter.

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