Thursday, April 14, 2005

Diffusion and Social Organization

Readings this week brought to mind a 1977 article on diffusion theory by James Blaut. It really can speak to all the articles, especially Selwyn. Blaut is arguing that theories that place "information need" at the heart of whether an innovation spreads or not are essentially overlooking the WHOLE rest of human social organization. Duh. He asks, "Why is diffusion only the narrow transition from IS NOT to IS, and isn't it very ethnocentric and elitist to assume that bits of information are more important than other processes?" He has a good point, and wonders, like others in our class did, why those who resist an innovation are so studied. He says- because of the position of the researchers. Then Blaut makes another good point that explosively rapid diffusion (like the internet) is always driven by economic factors, not need for information. The socioeconomic has to be satisfied before Maslow's hierarchy hits the top. So my question this week is in the positional vein of Selwyn's "technological determinist" comments...Does the divide only exist if you are socioeconomically 'tall' enough to see the gap?

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