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Appraising WhatsApp in the Indian Context: Understanding the Rural Sentiment

Abstract : Web-based instant messaging applications are predominant as means of Internet usage in rural settings. This becomes particularly interesting in the Indian rural context where applications like WhatsApp are accepted and used extensively, while the Internet is still rather an alien concept for a large part of the population. While adoption of these applications is motivated by ease of access, ease of use, and other facilitating conditions, to better understand the collective acceptance, the role of social influence needs to be contextualized for the rural areas in point. To this end, we use the analytical lens of social capital to understand and elaborate on the rural sentiment around the usage of WhatsApp. We triangulate a thematic analysis of qualitative details from an ethnographic study with the sentiment analysis of selected parts of interviews conducted during the study. This mixed-method study throws light on how social constructs in rural households play a role in defining technological usability and habits, as well as individual-level perceptions and sentiments. Our study, which illustrates the usefulness of mixed methods in ICT4D, has implications for various stakeholders to understand the usage patterns and perception of digital platforms in rural contexts.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 28, 2021 - 2:25:05 PM
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Anushruti Vagrani, Saroj Bijarnia, P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan, Silvia Masiero. Appraising WhatsApp in the Indian Context: Understanding the Rural Sentiment. 16th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries (ICT4D), Jun 2020, Manchester, United Kingdom. pp.142-156, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-65828-1_12⟩. ⟨hal-03272520⟩



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