Oct 07 2008

Social Technologies and National Contexts

When you are doing an interdisciplinary study of social technologies across four countries, it is important to focus on the connections between otherwise unrelated factors, and it is useful to develop a framework to look for these connections.

Here’s the framework we have been using for our research on social media in BRIC countries —

The Connection Between Social Technologies and National Contexts

The outer circle is the national context, which comprises of the five interconnected Cs of computing devices, connectivity, culture, content and capabilities. The inner circle is the social media ecosystem itself. Our research, which looks at the connections between the two, has three layers —

Layer 1: The role of the national context in social media adoption
Layer 2: The dynamics of the social media ecosystem
Layer 3: The role of social media in changing the social context

Finally, the national contexts we are looking at are the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and United States (as a reference point).

Most of our posts so far can be classified into one of these three layers. Posts about culture (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ) and access (1, 2, 3) belong to the first layer. Posts about social media usage (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) belong to the second layer. Posts about the impact of social technologies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) belong to the third layer.

We have found that there are different challenges in all the three layers.

In the first layer, the challenge is to identify and focus on the most important factors in the national context that impact social media adoption. There is a lot of prior data-rich research associated with each of the 5Cs and, unless you identify the most important connections, it’s easy to be lost in all that data.

In the second layer, the challenge is to focus only on the dynamics of social media usage that are important in the context of BRIC countries. Again, there is a lot of interesting (and sometimes data-rich) research on both the theory and usage of social technologies, and it is useful to tightly focus on the BRIC context.

In the third layer, the challenge is to look beyond anecdotal evidence and make connections that haven’t been made before. There is very little data-rich research on the impact of social technologies on the social context and it’s both a limitation and an opportunity.

The framework applies to our overall research, but, with minor variations, it can also be applied to Ben’s research on “privacy 2.0” and Pavneet’s research on “civil society 2.0”.

What do you think of our research framework? Are we looking at all the important factors? Are we looking for all the important connections? Do share your feedback with us.

One response so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Announcements,Gaurav Mishra,Theory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Social Technologies and National Contexts”

  1. Paul on 18 Oct 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I find the criteria too simplistic as you have grouped all the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) into one ,when each country has different issues .The national context of each of these countries are vastly different .Even studying social technologies across one single country would have so much variation .Would you be concentrating only on major cities ?

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