Rural Broadband Expansion in the United States: Citizen Perception as a Social Process

20 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2012

See all articles by Dawn Nafus

Dawn Nafus

Intel Corporation - Intel Lab

Scott Mainwaring

Intel Research - People and Practices Research

Date Written: August 15, 2010

Abstract

While the macroeconomic and social inclusion benefits of broadband are well understood, there is little investigation into the question of how it is that citizens come to understand and interpret broadband as a matter of wider social importance, and how they engage with processes of broadband deployment and adoption. Based on an ethnographic study of three rural areas in the United States, we found that both elites and the disadvantaged, policymakers at various levels and ordinary citizens, drew on the same set of cultural understandings to interpret what broadband expansion means to them, and at the same time steer broadband deployments in ways they saw fit. These cultural understandings enabled a conversation to be had about what broadband means amongst these actors, and enabled ordinary people to be engaged with broadband policy. We found three social and cultural principles that are longstanding artifacts of American culture that set the terms of engagement amongst the actors: beliefs about individual autonomy and agency, notions of citizenship (i.e., how people come to be included), and ideas about social class and hierarchy.

Suggested Citation

Nafus, Dawn and Mainwaring, Scott, Rural Broadband Expansion in the United States: Citizen Perception as a Social Process (August 15, 2010). TPRC 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1989653

Dawn Nafus (Contact Author)

Intel Corporation - Intel Lab ( email )

2200 Mission College Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95054-1549
United States

Scott Mainwaring

Intel Research - People and Practices Research ( email )

20270 NW Amberglen Ct., MS AG1-110
Beaverton, OR 97006
United States

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