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Does the Internet Transform Civil Society? The Case of Civil Society Organisations in Indonesia

Yanuar Nugroho - The University of Manchester - [-]
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  • Tesi completa: 392 pagine
  • Abstract
    The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), particularly the Internet, has attracted huge attention. Despite the attention paid to research into Internet use in homes, government agencies and business firms, little attention has been paid to other types of organisations such as civil society organisations (CSOs). As a result, many things remain unknown: the patterns of uptake and use of the Internet in CSOs, the process of the transformation both of the organisations and the way they use the technology, and the implication of Internet use for civil society. This thesis is attempting to address these problems. By focusing on the case of Indonesian CSOs, at a theoretical level, this research is concerned with the diffusion of Internet innovation and the effects on the practice of CSOs and social movements. These concerns are explored by examining two related empirical issues: (i) the links between the Internet and the organisational performances and dynamics of civil society, and (ii) the construction of Internet diffusion and impacts in organisations that define those links.

    The data was collected using a combination of methods involving online and offline surveys, in-depth interviews, direct observations, workshops, and focus groups. There were 283 CSOs from 27 provinces in Indonesia involved in the study (09/05 to 04/06). The data was analysed using simple latent class analysis, network analysis, and content analysis.

    This study shows that while the increasingly pivotal positions of Indonesian CSOs mainly stems from their capacities as institutions in fostering civic engagement, their use of the Internet has contributed considerably to building these capacities including effective networking with local, national, and global counterparts. Characteristics of civil society groups, in terms of issues, concerns, activities, affect the pattern and sequence of technology adoption, and are significant to what makes leaders and laggards in Internet adoption. Internet appropriation, too, is found to be bound to these characteristics. Yet it is not straightforward: effective, strategic and political use of the Internet in CSOs is only possible when the organisations realise the potentials of the technology, adopt it, then integrate its use into their organisation’s routines as part of their strategy. Such characteristics also have an effect on the stages of use and implementation as well as the strategic use of the Internet and may be a source of the difference between Internet use in CSOs and in other types of organisation. The implication of this use, observed at intra- and inter-organisation levels, affects not only CSOs’ organisational performance but identity and role in the reshaping of socio-political life of the country.

    In building the argument, the study makes no attempt to privilege Internet diffusion (and implementation) theories over civil society (and CSO) concepts. Rather, it sets forth cases for redrawing the traditional boundaries of the concept ‘technological diffusion in organisations’ to incorporate other courses of action in the adoption and implementation of Internet technologies in civil society groups and organisations. By demonstrating that appropriation of the Internet in Indonesian CSOs plays an important role in building CSOs’ capacities and capabilities as institutions and as social movements, it paves the way for Internet diffusion and implementation to be recognised as contributing to the dynamics of civil society and reshaping politics in the country in its broadest sense.
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