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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 6. Innovation: Attributes of the Internet


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Attributes of the Internet


Many government projects aimed at improving the degree of informatization in rural areas have been implemented over the last three decades, ranging from promoting investment in informational infrastructure to subsidizing internet service providers and individual clients. In respect of the effects of informatization, national or general-societal perspectives are more frequently considered, while individual positions and personal concerns are less often discussed.

From a symbolic interactionist perspective, rather than directly responding to the external environment, humans are believed to consciously select objects from the environment, and then to indicate or render these objects significant to the embedded self. The self, for Symbolic Interactionism, refers to an internal object with which human beings keep acting and communicating. They define a given situation through interpreting the meanings of such objects in line with their own interests, and based on this definitional processing, their actions towards the outside are constructed (Blumer 1969). Inquiring into the diffusion process of the internet, it is thus essential to understand in detail how rural individuals interpret the internet, as well as its associated facilities, from the point of view of its impact on and utility for them. ← 163 | 164 →

The more realizable digital devices in rural China are the computer (desktop and laptop) and the mobile phone. Based on the field investigation in this research, this chapter aims to show how rural individuals in the three...

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