This study explores the internet experiences of women living in rural and regional Australia, their motives for internet uptake and use, the benefits they gain from using the internet, the difficulties they encounter in using the internet and whether the benefits are affected by technical factors, such as computer equipment and telecommunication infrastructure, availability of opportunities for developing online skills, and perceptions of the internet. Data was collected via an email snowball technique to contact women living in rural and regional Australia, resulting in participation by 40 women from throughout rural and regional areas. The research drew on the literature of internet research and media uses-and-gratifications. Although the internet is a relatively new communication technology, it has attracted a large amount of scholarly interest. However, there has been little research into internet use by individual populations. Women living in rural and regional areas of Australia experience geographical and social isolation, with limited access to goods, services and information, and could be expected, therefore, to gain significant benefits from use of the internet. However, the potential benefits of the internet could be offset by difficulties with internet use in rural and regional areas. A narrative approach was used to determine the motives for internet use by women living in rural and regional Australia, the benefits they gain from using the internet, the difficulties they encounter in using it and whether the difficulties affect the benefits they gain from internet use. The research findings show that, more than anything else, women living in rural and regional Australia use the internet to build and maintain relationships, including keeping in touch with family and friends, re-connecting with friends for the past and making new friends online. They also use the internet to facilitate involvement in community organisations, to contribute to social issues at the national, state and local level and to participate in community projects and events. In addition, women living in rural and regional Australia use the internet to undertake business and education related activities, pursue personal interests, seek emotional support and undertake practical tasks, such as finding and disseminating information, banking and shopping. However, the many benefits of the internet are offset to some extent by the many frustrations encountered in using it, particularly in regard to technical factors and developing online skills. Spam mail and viruses also cause considerable inconvenience.
|Date of Award||2004|
|Supervisor||Trish Milne (Supervisor), Annabel Beckenham (Supervisor) & Barbara Chambers (Supervisor)|