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Study on the Social Impact of ICT
(CPP N°55A – SMART N°2007/0068)

Project Outline
Workshop of the social-impact project on June 30th in Brussels

Contractor: Universität Siegen, Institut für Wirtschaftsinformatik und Neue Medien, Germany jointly with: Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary empirica Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Technologieforschung mbH, Germany Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, U.K. University of Twente, Netherlands Work Research Centre (WRC), Ireland

Social Impact of ICT

Project Outline

1 Objectives of the Study
In recent years, ICT has permeated the European society and economy, in some domains with far-reaching, partly even transformative implications. Some of the most relevant domains have been studied in the project “Social Impacts of ICT” which is funded by the European Commission, these are: 1. Conceptual framework A. Participation in Policy-Making B. Education and Lifelong Learning C. Work D. Consumption (incl. media &entertainment) E. Health F. Community and family G. Creation and distributed innovation H. Europe and other parts of the world [download report] [download report] [download report] [download report] [download report] [download report] [download report] [download report] [download report]

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The European Commission has put increasing emphasis on policies aiming at the promotion of ICT uses that enable all citizens to participate in the European society according to their needs and abilities. However, there are considerable differences in the extent and the ways in which ICT is utilised in different domains and among the member States of Europe. Arguably even stronger difference can be expected between Europe and other parts of the world in which uptake of ICT is widespread (for example, North America, Japan and the fast developing countries of South-East Asia) - the latter is subject of the “horizontal” domain report “H”. A separate report was produced which presents the findings from the analysis of the special Eurobarometer conducted in early 2008 on “Citizens empowerment through ICT”. The analysis applied selected bivariate and multivariate statistical methods. The data was compared and, where feasible, validated by using secondary data from other sources, including the Oxford Internet Surveys and other partner surveys within in the World Internet Project. The permeation of the European society and economy by ICT was often accompanied by utopian or dystopian visions. However, stemming against speculation, empirical research has been conducted that aimed at a sober reconstruction of the often highly complex ways in which the take-up and use of ICT has been related to processes of social change. Corresponding to the variety of inter-dependencies at stake, related explorative research was conducted in various different forms, for instance, in case studies. Notwithstanding the heterogeneity of this sort of research, sound analyses converge in the insight that deterministic accounts of the effects which ‘follow logically’ from the features of certain ICTs are ill-informed.

Social Impact Project Outline Working document for workshop on June 30

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Social Impact of ICT

Project Outline

Social practice (technology use and, for example, policy-making being a part of it) can have an effect on the benefits which members of society derive from ICT, and as well on the extent to which potential damages exert a negative influence. If instead one reduces technology to the blueprints of some ingenious inventor, one misses its socially constructed and appropriated character and falls victim to the trap of instrumentalism. The same is true if one assumes technology to solve all social problems (although problem solving may often be related to technological change in one way or...
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