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Title: An interpretive approach to digital divide policy-making : a comparative study of China and Taiwan
Author: Chiang, Shu-Lin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis investigates how problems for policy become defined as well as how policy responses are subsequently designed to address these problems, The way in which digital divide policy is made in developing countries has received relatively little attention. In light of this gap in the literature, empirical research was carried out on the development of Digital Divide Policy-Making in two developing countries - China and Taiwan. Theoretically, this research adopts an interdisciplinary rationale, combining an interpretative approach from the field of policy research and key concepts from Science and Technology Studies. It elucidates how understandings of the digital divide are articulated - initially in discussions in the USA and European Union - and become promulgated through international organizations - and ultimately are ‘domesticated’ and become embedded within particular national contexts. This research combines discourse analysis of policy documents with interviewing policy-makers. Finally there is an analysis of policy outcomes. This research also contributes to opening the black box of policy-making, particularly in China, a context which presents particular challenges for the researcher. Firstly it is demonstrated that international and national contexts matter in digital divide policy-making. Policy similarities can be explained by both the international context and local context. International policy discourses provide commonly available intellectual resources, whereas similarities in local contexts, for example a shared technocratic tradition in China and Taiwan, explain the technical focus in the digital divide policy of both countries. Additionally, local contextual factors are key in explaining diversity. These international and national contexts impact on the participants who are involved in digital divide policy-making: for example the technocratic tradition of China and Taiwan are factors underpinning the choice of policy participants with science and technology backgrounds. Secondly, the study found that the relationship between discourse and policy-making is by no means as straightforward and linear as some interpretations imply. Discourses may have influences on policy development; however some inclusion strategies arose within domestic departments in advance of alignment with international digital divide discourses, as a result of pre-existing concerns within the national policy settings. A third and related finding is that there is a gap between policy formation and policy implementation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available