Social cohesion and free home internet in New Zealand
Citation:Williams, J.E. (2013). Social cohesion and free home internet in New Zealand. In In A. Abdelaal (Ed.), Social and economic effects of community wireless networks and infrastructures. Hershey, Philadelphia: IGI Global(Eds.), (pp. 135-159). doi: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2997-4.ch008. NOTE: AVAILABLE FROM LINK BELOW
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2929
This chapter discusses community outcomes of free home Internet access. It draws on case study re-search on Computers in Homes (CIH), a scheme established in New Zealand in 2000 for the purpose of bridging the digital divide, particularly for low-income families who have school-aged children. The government-funded CIH scheme aims to strengthen relationships between families and schools, improve educational outcomes for children, and provide greater opportunities for their parents. CIH achieves this by working with many primary (elementary) schools, each of which selects 25 families who will benefit from the program. Each family receives a refurbished computer, software, and six months free Internet,as well as twenty hours of free IT training and technical support so that all adults are equipped to make effective use of the Internet. The scheme has evolved to deliver much more than technology. It has becomes a contributor to social capital in the communities where it has been established. This chapter uses a case study research approach to demonstrate and theorize this process of community building using a construct of social cohesion, which appears to be strengthened by the CIH intervention. Where stronger social networks, volunteerism, and civic engagement were documented in the research, leader figures also mobilized to act on shared goals. These findings highlight the value of existing social resources within communities for achieving community goals while also maximizing community Internet longevity.