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Exploring the adoption of mobile internet services by socioeconomically disadvantaged people: A qualitative user study

Dandan Ma (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China)
Jia Tina Du (School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Yonghua Cen (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China)
Peng Wu (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 21 November 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify enablers and inhibitors to the adoption of mobile internet services by socioeconomically disadvantaged people: an understudied population adversely affected by digital inequality.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative study combining a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. In total, 32 socioeconomically disadvantaged people explored mobile lottery services and subsequently were asked a series of semi-structured questions about their perceptions of the technology.

Findings

Users’ attitudes toward mobile internet services were ambivalent. They experienced some advantages of smartphones (including escaping spatiotemporal constrains, fashionableness, privacy, and cost-effectiveness) and conceived of mobile internet services in terms of social advantages (including their ubiquitous nature, fitting in socially and fear of being “left behind”). However, they also experienced barriers and concerns, such as limited mobile data packages, external barriers from mobile services (including security concerns, complex online help tutorials, irrelevant pop-ups, and a lack of personalized services) and internal psychological barriers (including technophobia, self-concept, and habitus).

Research limitations/implications

The findings are of limited generalizability due to the small size of the sample. However, the study has implications for understanding the acceptance of technology among socioeconomically disadvantaged people.

Social implications

The study has social implications for bridging digital inequality in terms of socioeconomic status.

Originality/value

While previous studies have primarily focused on enablers of adopting mobile internet services by active users, this study reveals both the promise of and the barriers to the use of such services by inactive users who comprise an under-served population.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71471089, No. 71273132, and No. 71001052).

Citation

Ma, D., Tina Du, J., Cen, Y. and Wu, P. (2016), "Exploring the adoption of mobile internet services by socioeconomically disadvantaged people: A qualitative user study", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 68 No. 6, pp. 670-693. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-03-2016-0027

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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