Social viability

In the course of my research I’ve had to consider both social capital and public value as potential measures of e-government usage and success.  However, I found neither capable of an adequate definition that allowed them to be used in the parsimonious way I was seeking. Having said that I consider them as important outcomes.

Interestingly, in a very recent Intel blog, “What buying a PC means“, I found that the great chip and tin manufacturer had been supporting ethnographic research in the developing world as to what investing in IT means for the people living and working there. This interest in developing countries is not new, researchers at Manchester with Richard Heeks have produced some very influential material over recent years. What attracts me to Intel’s research is the result of it. Intel identify a measure available from it, whilst their focus is obviously to sell more tin into developing countries.

The report from Intel, which is available on their website is ‘Reassessing ICTs and Development: The Social Forces of Consumption‘ and you have the choice of a 2Mb or 22Mb download (I presume the 2Mb is for developing countries with limited broadband like the UK), along with YouTube video.

Consumerization, marketization and consumption play a part in this story and have also appeared in my research, but largely with regards to how neo-liberal politics have tried to re-employ them in government and the resultant effects they have when trying to deliver e-government.

The study proposes that there is another, previously unrecognised force, involved in technology acceptance, and that is one where one’s social class and aspirations affect how one views technology and these, using the Social Viability Measurement, should be considered. In fact the study is that inclusive about exclusion that rural Colorado and the Orkney Islands are amongst those parts of the world presented in case studies.

In terms of technology, consumption and the digitally excluded this is a very useful piece of work.


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