Urban vs. rural divide in technology adoption and usage


Significant differences have been documented in the literature regarding the divide between urban and rural technology adoption and uses. Traditionally, in the adoption cycle of a technology, the early adopters (Rogers 1962) are located in urban areas and are entrepreneurs. Studying mobile phone adoption and use in rural areas of African countries, Murphy and Priebe showed that it was made in an adaptive way. Users developed alternative usages (like sharing handsets or "flashing recipients") to bypass the technical barriers and economic constraints (Murphy & Priebe 2011). In addition to a weaker Internet access in rural areas, rural internet users seem to be disadvantaged also by the social environment that is less technology-oriented as was found in a study about pupils in China (Li & Ranieri 2013). Indeed, this study found that in rural areas students are disadvantaged compared to urban students as they score lower on digital access, but also in autonomy of use and social support. If technologies like mobile phones seem to lead to more empowerment of farmers and women in rural areas (Murphy & Priebe 2011), other studies have shown a lack of interest for technologies among some communities. Studying technology adoption among 900 Irish farmers, Hennessy et al found that farmers living alone have a much more limited access to tools such as computers than in larger dairy farms. They were also found to have a weaker interest in these tools. The authors mentioned that technologies adoption should be encouraged in order to tackle social isolation. Here the lack of interest in adoption could be linked to the fact that, in the survey, the computer would be used mostly for business purposes (Hennessy et al. 2016).

Note: See source document for full reference.

Applicable to: