UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 7th Annual International Postgraduate Conference
Friday 17 February 4:30 – 6:00: Panel G1: Technological Inclusion
Eglé Butkeviciené (Kaunas University of Technology): ‘Social dimensions of ICT diffusion in rural communities of Lithuania: opportunities for inclusion or threats of social exclusion’
In Lithuania, as in the most societies around the world, the Internet and other information communication technologies (ICT) are mainly used by young, educated, well paid and urban consumers. Elderly, low-educated, low-paid and rural residents are among those who use the Internet the least. This leads to the information gap, when one part of the population (ICT users) access information, while the other part of the population (non-users) is in a digital divide. In our post-modern network society they are at the risk of social exclusion.
This paper is aimed at the analysis of ICT diffusion in rural communities of Lithuania, exploring the main social patterns of diffusion and characteristics of rural Internet users. The study is based on focus group discussions and questionnaire-based survey of Lithuanian rural residents. It represents the opinion of local communities’ members from different rural regions of Lithuania. The study tries to answer the question - do people from rural communities consider the Internet useful for their lives?
The paper discusses types of change agents involved in the processes of ICT diffusion in rural communities and the main motives for using the Internet. It also explores the role of the Internet in improving the quality of life of rural residents and widening opportunities for public participation.