Journal article

Towards understanding digital divide in rural partnerships and development: a framework and evidence from rural Australia

Digital divide Rural development Community participation digital access Community engagement Queensland
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apo-nid137851.pdf 1.08 MB

Despite increasing recognition that the world's social and environmental problems cannot be addressed solely by business, government or society in isolation, the role of partnerships in rural development has only recently started to attract the interest of rural studies scholars. The study adds to the growing stream of research by investigating how the information age's emerging social challenge - the digital divide - influences rural partnerships and development. Burgeoning literature evidences that the digital divide encompasses not one but many discontinuities. This paper reconceptualises the digital divide concept and explores exactly how its shocks and tensions impact rural partnerships and development. Results of this research indicate that the digital divide is a threat to the performance of rural partnerships, which consequently renders rural development outcomes unsustainable, lopsided and nonparticipatory. This paper recommends the need for a more responsive and localised approach to rural development partnerships that can enable disadvantaged groups to participate in today's digitally connected economy and society.

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