Information and communication technologies and social change : a study of the Internet and rural development in China.
Date of Issue2007
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
By focusing on Internet application initiatives at five places in rural China, this study examines how the Internet is diffused and used in the rural settings and what potentials it may have in helping rural people improve economic conditions, education, healthcare, gender equality and political participation. The results of this study show that the diffusion and usage of the Internet in rural areas are conditioned by the interplay of structural factors and individual differences. The purposes behind the change agencies in introducing the Internet greatly determine the ways of Internet access, the extension efforts taken to encourage farmers to adopt the technology, and the direction of social changes. However, access to the Internet does not automatically lead to voluntary adoption and active usage by rural people. Internet adoption and usage tend to be constrained by the level of computer literacy, the information needs, and the perceived efficacy of the Internet in meeting these needs. The rural places examined in this study have not witnessed drastic social and economic changes resulting from the introduction of the Internet. Though the scope and depth of the changes are not significant enough to lend support to the romanticized arguments about ICTs for development, the empirical findings show some positive implications that the Internet has on improving the livelihood and education of the rural people.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Sociology::Social change
Nanyang Technological University