Moving From Access to Use of the Information Infrastructure: A Multi-level Socio-Technical Framework
Pradeep Racherla and Munir Mandviwalla
Universal access (UA) to the Internet and the associated information infrastructure has become an important economic and societal goal. However, UA initiatives tend to focus on issues such as physical access and geographical ubiquity, and they measure adoption through penetration rates. In this paper, we apply an interpretive case study approach to analyze the Philadelphia wireless initiative to provide insights into the nature of UA and extend this concept to also consider universal use (UU). UU is important because simply providing access does not guarantee use. UU is presented as a conceptual goal that starts with the challenge of physical access, but which necessarily also leads to considerations of use. The results show that the human and technological elements underlying individual access and use are deeply embedded within various institutional elements and collectives that enable but also constrain meaningful use. We integrate our findings into a multilevel framework that shows how access and use are influenced by both micro and macro factors. This framework provides new insights into the study of the information infrastructure, digital divide, and public policy.
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