Abstract - The Information Society 20(1)

History and Habit in the Mobilisation of ICT Resources

Angela Coco and Patricia Short

Evidence demonstrates that the digital divide is deepening despite strategies mobilised world wide to reduce it. In disadvantaged communities, beyond training and infra-structural issues, there often lies a range of cultural and historically formed relationships which effect people’s adoption of ICTs. This paper presents an analysis of local resident’s engagement with their council’s pilot project to develop a computer facility in their community centre. We ask to what extent people in poor urban communities, once trained, can be expected to volunteer to work on furthering community education and development in ICTs in their local area? Findings indicate four patterns of individual engagement with the computer project, reflexive, utilitarian, distributive and non-participatory. It is argued that local people engaged with the intervention in historically patterned and locally distinctive ways that served immediate personal and pragmatic ends. They did not adopt the long-term strategic goals of the council or university.

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