Dissertation

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ABSTRACT

Accessible, Useful, and Conspicuous: Socioeconomic and Cultural Determinants of Information and Communication Technology Adoption in the Republic of Armenia

Is there something unique about Armenia and Armenians that has created an incredible mobile phone ownership boom, especially in light of the low adoption of other technologies? This study sought to answer this larger question through three sub-questions. First, what is occurring in terms of overall technology adoption with multi-year surveys (2007: N = 2481, 2008: N = 2082, 2009: N = 1975, and 2010: N = 1922), using the “digital divide” as a theoretical framework. Second, why the mobile phone is being adopted, using diffusion of innovation theory and a uses and gratifications perspective (survey N = 252). Third, how the mobile phone is being used (survey N = 1200). After the what, why, and how questions were answered quantitatively, a mixed methods approach using constructivist grounded theory as a qualitative method (N = 54 interviewees) was used to supplement and complement the quantitative findings, answering the primary question as well as the sub-questions.

Results indicated that the reasons for the mobile phone ownership boom in Armenia were related both to culture and to the transitional economy in which Armenians live. Culturally, Armenians have a great need for reachability due to strong kinship ties, and mobile phones meet this need. Economically, mobile phones are a utility device used in lieu of personal computers. Finally, both culturally and economically, conspicuous consumption of mobile phones is commonplace in Armenia. Together, these are explanations for the primary question of whether there is something unique about Armenia and Armenians that has created the incredible mobile phone ownership boom, especially in light of the low adoption of other technologies, as well as the individual questions of what, why and how addressed above.


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