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Encounters with the Information Society

Personal and social issues in the appropriation of new media products in everyday life: adoption, non-adoption, and the role of the informal economy and local experts

James Stewart, PhD thesis, 2002, University of Edinburgh

Abstract

This research introduces a novel methodology to study the appropriation of new Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) or "Multimedia" in a natural setting. This includes computers, mobile phones and television, and any application and service based on these. Building on theoretical and empirical research in technology studies, diffusion of innovations and consumer research, the study investigates the processes of adoption, consumption and domestication across the life-space of individuals and natural groups. The BEAN approach is developed to investigate data from qualitative fieldwork that engaged with respondents in four natural social networks. This shows how a range of new ICTs are entering into the everyday world of these respondents, and how they engage with them: the way these technologies are appropriated, including adoption, learning and struggling, but also strategies of resistance, non-adoption, and arms-length appropriation. It shows the importance of the informal economy in providing access to technology, skills, knowledge and resources to deal with the complexities and difficulties of adopting and using ICTs. In particular, it finds the local expert is crucial to the adoption and use of many of these technologies, providing support that the commercial world fails or is unable to provide.

This research was conducted at the University of Edinburgh from 1996-2000, sumbitted in 2001 and passed in 2002. It was supervised by Prof Robin Williams in the Research Centre for Social Sciences

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