Broadband Internet Rollout in Rural Vietnam: From Policy to Everyday Use
Committee MemberGow, Gordon
Subjectbroadband Internet, Vietnam, critical constructivism, capabilities approach, domestication model, technology intermediaries
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AbstractThis thesis examines broadband infrastructure rollout and rural residents’ Internet adoption and use in Vietnam through an analysis of the country’s Internet policy documents from 1990 to 2020. It is based on semi-structured interviews with two policy-makers and a content developer from 2016 to 2020, and ethnographic interviews with 79 rural residents conducted between November 2016 and January 2017. The central objective of the thesis is to understand how Vietnamese rural residents use the technology to enlarge their informational and human capabilities. The study draws on three distinctive literatures: critical constructivism, the capabilities approach, and the domestication model. The key findings include a) rural residents hardly understand what broadband Internet is, and thus are unable to contribute their ideas to and monitor the deployment of subsidized broadband Internet networks in their villages; b) the top-down rollout approach that focuses on Internet infrastructure expansion and economic growth as part of the modernization and industrialization discourse does not automatically translate into rural residents’ increased capabilities to lead lives of their choice; and c) rural residents, despite being considered “laggards” in adopting the state-of-the-art technology and experiencing systemic discrimination due to their rural origins, take an active part in shaping the Internet via the initiation of use genres grounded in the social-biographical contexts. Among this thesis’s significant contributions are the demonstration of rural residents’ creativity in the process of Internet adoption; the examination of the relationship between broadband Internet access and the enhancement of human capabilities in this marginalized population; and the documentation of use genres emerging in the process of broadband appropriation and anchored in rural residents’ daily needs and aspirations. Finally, the thesis offers a set of recommendations to Vietnam’s Internet policy makers including: the integration of rural resident voices in Internet policy-making via technology intermediaries; the consideration of both the negative and positive changes that could result from the introduction of broadband Internet in rural areas from users’ perspectives; and the inclusion of rural residents in public deliberation and decision-making concerning the policies and strategies of broadband Internet rollout.
CitationPham, T. (2021). Broadband Internet Rollout in Rural Vietnam: From Policy to Everyday Use (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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