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Does IT count?: complexities between access to and use of information technologies among Uganda's farmers
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Drawn from a year of ethnographic fieldwork among farmers in Uganda, this study engages with developing an understanding on how access to and use of media and information technologies are negotiated in their separate profiles. Oftentimes the two entities, access and use, are laminated into one statistical representation, depicting both terms as either use or access. However, these terms are nodal points in two discourses and should not by necessity be understood as one. Media and information technologies in the current study refer to computers/internet and mobile phones which are situated in the information technologies part of the phrase. Radios, newspapers and television form part of the media phrase. Access to information carries similar weight as having access to other crucial resources such as land and capital for the farmer, which is why media and information technologies which have the ability to deliver information in real time are encouraged for Uganda's farmers by development efforts.Agriculture is Uganda's economic bedrock and is a practice that Ugandans identify with. Situating a study of access to and use of media and information technologies in this sector may give an indication of the diffusion process of the media and information technologies among Ugandans. Uganda like other developing regions are encouraged to adapt the use of media and information technologies, particularly the Internet, in light of the socioeconomic progress, associated with the ability to use the information from this medium towards self-progression. This study is partly motivated by the requests for more studies that give an indication to what level socioeconomic progress can be measured in line with access to information from media and information technologies. The methods that informed this research include interviews, observations, survey research methods and focus group discussions. Farmers in the eastern, northern and central regions of Uganda informed this research. The farmers were initially asked what information sources were available to them with regards to their farming practices. This question produced a range of responses and from the responses an indication of where farmers locate media and information technologies was analysed. It was also possible to discern that a positive influence on the farming practices can be traced to use of information from the media and information technologies. From the descriptions given by the farmers as well as the observations made, the social environment in which the media and information technologies operate is influential towards the farmer's relationship with the technology. As farmers' negotiated access and use in very innovative ways in light of the fact that the communications infrastructure is still developing specific relations with the technologies emerged. For example the search for signals for radios and mobile phones in some of the rural areas may require tree-climbing or going up a hill. Women are culturally barred from some of these practices deemed to be uncouth and unflattering for the pious nature of women. The technologies for which signals must be sought gain an inherently masculine symbolism to which women enjoy limited associations. In this case having access to the physical device, may not always result in women being able to use the radio or mobile phone. Critically analysing access in this way also brings to question who a user is. Because access and use require various social negotiations, this brings forth the understanding that technology is culturally embedded. The current research gives specific focus to gender, at the same time as it is acknowledged that gender intersects with other social categories such as age and ethnicity and aims to contribute to studies that give attention to the cultural embeddedness of gender and technology from a development perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2010. , 241 p.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keyword [en]
Interdisciplinary research areas - Gender
Keyword [sv]
Tvärvetenskapliga forskningsområden - Genus
Research subject
Gender and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-17517Local ID: 3c7b5ee0-ecb8-11df-8b36-000ea68e967bISBN: 978-91-7439-174-9 (print)OAI: diva2:990522
Godkänd; 2010; 20101110 (carwam); DISPUTATION Ämnesområde: Genus och teknik/Gender and Technology Opponent: Professor Merete Lie NTNU, Trondheim, Norge Ordförande: Professor Ulf Mellström, Luleå tekniska universitet Tid: Torsdag den 9 december 2010, kl 13.00 Plats: F341, Luleå tekniska universitetAvailable from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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