Constructing Internet access: The emergence and use of ICTs in new social spaces

Hiller, David Benjamin. 2006. Constructing Internet access: The emergence and use of ICTs in new social spaces. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the introduction of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into new social spaces. These new social spaces have been called the 'middle ground' (MG). They are found not in the workplace nor in the home but are located elsewhere in community centres, libraries and Internet cafes. The MG is used for education, communication and information retrieval. This thesis draws upon two case studies to explore the institutional, sociological and cultural development and use of such MG spaces.

Theoretically, this thesis draws upon the Sociology of Science & Technology, specifically Actor Network Theory (ANT). According to ANT, to understand just how a technology becomes (or fails to become) a success we must follow and observe various innovators as they attempt to enrol others into their 'networks'. The utility of ANT is twofold. Firstly, it enables me to study 'innovation' and secondly to move beyond overarching general notions (such as technological determinism) to understand the complex ways new ICTs are being utilised in the 'middle ground'.

The first case study examines the development of a 'virtual university' project 'Televersity'. Here I examine the relationship that develops between the key actors involved with the project, the strategic co-operation between the actors and the use of representations of the Local Learning Centres (LLCs) and identity of the users. The second case study examines the establishment and use of an Internet cafe. I explore the representational resources that the founders utilise in their attempts to stabilise the identity of the Internet cafe and its users. I then proceed to compare these with accounts of use, derived through a series of interviews with (and observations of) the users.

The thesis thus aims to illuminate the heterogeneous and complex nature of the MG and the cooperation and flexibility needed at a policy level for such places to be sustained. Furthermore, by using an approach like ANT, we can begin to understand the micro-level shaping of the MG and the relation between these local processes and the wider dynamics within which they are embedded.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Information and Communication Technologies, Internet Access, Utilisation of New Social Spaces, Actor Network Theory, Local Learning Centres, Internet Cafe, Interviews and Observations

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Date Deposited:

07 Jul 2020 11:04

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:34


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