Electronic communities: Assessing equality of access in a rural Minnesota community

Eric Riedel, Libby Dresel, Marc J. Wagoner, John L. Sullivan, Eugene Borgida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The recent implementation of a community electronic network is examined. The network is intended to help the rural community of Grand Rapids in northern Minnesota keep up with global technological progress. The present study is a baseline examination of social, political, and technological conditions in the community. Changes in social capital are hypothesized as a result of the wide-area network. Focus groups and survey research are used to assess inequalities in knowledge, access, and use of technologies as they relate to underlying inequalities in socioeconomic status and social capital. Results suggest that initial adoption of technological advances occurs among those with greater resources. Those with resources of social, but not necessarily economic, capital follow suit once an opportunity arises. Among the implications of the study's findings is that citizens lacking such resources need to be actively recruited into using the new technology as a means to bolster their existing resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-390
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Computer networks
  • Equity
  • Network access
  • Rural communities
  • Social captial
  • Technological diffusion
  • Technology


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