Meanings of (dis)connection: Exploring non-users in isolated rural communities with internet access infrastructure

Isabel Pavez*, Teresa Correa, Javier Contreras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


While public policy worldwide has focused on providing digital connectivity infrastructure in remote areas, there remain people who are digitally excluded. Hence, it is important to explore why people, despite having access to a digital connection, do not go online. As the third part of a three-year project on digital inclusion in isolated communities in Chile, this study draws on findings from focus groups conducted with non-Internet users who live in three remotes but digitally connected villages, to unravel the elements associated with their decision to remain digitally excluded. The main findings indicate that strong ties within the community shelter their sense of isolation providing a feeling of closeness, whereas the internet is perceived as disruptive. In addition, negative attitudes about the Internet emerge from the discussions: the internet is associated with addiction and isolation. Finally, the absence of digital skills makes smartphones and computers unknown entities, a black box people feel unable to or overwhelmed at the thought of learning how to use. However, many are facing a hard choice due to their need to remain in contact with those outside the community as well as promote and develop their small business ventures. Therefore, there is a cultural construction of the internet as a required form of progress that nonetheless does more harm than good to a tight-knit community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Digital inequality
  • Internet
  • Rural communities


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