Making Sense of Broadband in Rural Alberta, Canada

Maria Bakardjieva


This article stems from a collaborative research initiative that examined the social adoption of the SuperNet, an Alberta government infrastructure project designed to provide high-speed, broadband access to public facilities, to businesses and residences in Alberta communities. The aim is to explore how rural community members made sense of the SuperNet as a communication technology in the context of their practices and perceived needs and against the background of their existing experience of Internet use. The theoretical underpinnings of the approach taken in the research derive from social constructivism and critical theory of technology. Members of rural communities in their capacity as current and/or potential users of the SuperNet were construed as relevant actors in the social shaping of the network. In the process of the research it became clear that these activities themselves constituted an important stream in the meaning-making and hence social shaping of the SuperNet. The article addresses the question of what economic, political and cultural influences of a national (and provincial) character may be responsible for the observed developments. It also discusses the specifics of rural appropriation of broadband in Alberta and the conditions and outcomes of the creativity of rural users.


Internet, ICT social appropriation

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