A policy-level perspective to tackle rural digital inclusion

Wagg, Sharon and Simeonova, Boyka (2022) A policy-level perspective to tackle rural digital inclusion. Information Technology and People, 35 (7). pp. 1884-1911. ISSN 0959-3845

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Purpose This paper explores how policy-level stakeholders tackle digital inclusion in the context of UK rural communities. Design/methodology/approach Semi-structured interviews were conducted with stakeholders that operate nationally in government departments, government funded organisations and third sector organisations that provided a policy-level perspective on digital inclusion initiative provision across England, Scotland and Wales. Activity theory (AT) was utilised as a theoretical framework, where a variety of factors–tools, rules, community, division of labour and contradictions–were found to have an influence on digital inclusion initiative provision. Findings Digital inclusion initiative provision in UK rural communities is organised through the multi-stakeholder involvement of national organisations, and collaboration with intermediary organisations to provide digital skills training and support. The process is fraught with difficulties and contradictions, limited knowledge sharing; reduced or poor-quality connectivity; lack of funding; lack of local resources; assumptions that organisations will indeed collaborate and assumptions that intermediary organisations have staff with the necessary skills and confidence to provide digital skills training and support within the rural context. Research limitations/implications This study highlights the benefit of using AT as a lens to develop a nuanced understanding of how policy-level stakeholders tackle digital inclusion. Practical implications This study can inform policy decisions on digital inclusion initiative provision suitable for rural communities. Originality/value The contribution of this paper provides new insights into the understanding of how policy-level stakeholders tackle digital inclusion and the provision of digital inclusion initiatives; it builds on the use of AT to help unpick the complexity of digital inclusion initiative provision as a phenomenon; it reveals contradictions in relation to trust, and the need for knowledge sharing mechanisms to span and align different interpretations of digital inclusion across the policy-level; and reveals an extension of AT demonstrated through the “granularity of the subject” which enables the multi-actor involvement of the stakeholders involved in digital inclusion at policy-level to emerge.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Information Technology and People
Additional Information:
This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? digital inclusionactivity theoryruralpolicy-levellibrary and information sciencesinformation systemscomputer science applications ??
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Deposited On:
12 Oct 2021 09:50
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 21:57