ICT4D: Internet Adoption and Usage among Rural Users in China
~ Jinqiu Zhao
Abstract Despite its low penetration in the vast rural areas of China, the Internet is generally perceived as a new engine for rural empowerment and quite a number of experimental projects have been initiated in recent years to test this view. This study explores the effects of Internet use on various aspects of rural development, including economic conditions and education. A qualitative approach was adopted in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the diffusion process of the Internet and its implications for rural development. The data-collection methods included in-depth interviews, participant observations, and documentation reviews. The findings suggest that the rural areas included in the study have not witnessed dramatic 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 information and communication technologies for development, the empirical findings show that the Internet has had some positive effects
on the livelihood and education of the rural people. This study examines how social structures exert their influence on Internet diffusion, adoption, and use. The findings provide strong empirical evidence in support of the view that society shapes the adoption of technology. The Internet serves as an agent of change, but the extent, duration, and intensity of its impact are primarily determined by the existing socio-economic contexts of the rural settings.
Keywords: Internet, Development communication, Rural development, ICT4D