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From Digital Divide to Social Inclusion: A Tale of Mobile Platform Empowerment in Rural Areas

Lisha Ye () and Huiqin Yang ()
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Lisha Ye: Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
Huiqin Yang: Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 6, 1-16

Abstract: The digital divide in rural areas is an important social issue, especially in developing countries. Although Internet and broadband penetration have increased in the world generally, there are many obstacles for rural China to get access to ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and its services. The mobile platform is regarded as a novel and effective tool to reduce the digital divide. Based on a case of one mobile platform, namely WeCountry in Chinese rural areas, this study illustrates how a mobile platform bridges the digital divide and helps rural areas achieve social inclusion. Results show that: (1) the mobile platform mainly acts on the digital capability divide elimination, and it has to guide and increase users’ usage capability; (2) the mobile platform can empower villagers in structural, psychological, and resource dimensions, achieving political inclusion, social participation inclusion, and economic inclusion; (3) platform providers and government are key organizations during the divide elimination process. This paper concludes with theoretical and practical implications.

Keywords: Digital divide; empowerment; social inclusion; mobile platform; rural areas (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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