AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 390

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Session 390: The Social Context of Information and Communication Technologis (ICT)

Organizer: Jingfeng Xia, Indiana University, USA

Discussant: Jingfeng Xia, Indiana University, USA

Title: The Social Context of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) Panelists: Ishan Joshi, Cornell University; Shefali Virkar, Oxford University; Liyun Wu, University of Michigan; Ying Zhang, University of California at Irvine Organizer: Jingfeng Xia, Indiana University (also the discussant) Description: The development of information & communication technologies (ICT) has brought out tremendous changes to Asian societies. Particularly, the Internet has become an integral part of everyday’s life. With the uniqueness of Asian cultures, online information sharing has its own characteristics. This panel will explore information use on the Internet from various perspectives with topics ranging from e-government practices in India to internet cafe in China. The panel will deliver valuable information for a fuller understanding of the social context of ICT in different Asian countries. Audience discussion will provide the opportunity for attendees to consider the implications of ICT in various societal settings. Content: In four research presentations, the panelists will establish the foundation for a far-reaching discussion of ICT development in past, present and future. Ishan Joshi of Cornell University will examine how the proliferation of information on the Internet has altered the content and scope of “developmental discourses” in China and India. Ying Zhang of the University of California at Irvine will present the effectiveness of communication between governments and residents during the e-government movement. Shefali Virkar of Oxford University will focus on the use of ICT by a local government agency in India to reform property tax administration, highlighting the critical importance of doing this and the obstacles encountered within a developing country context. Liyun Wu of the University of Michigan will discuss how the Internet exposure has an impact on children’s health using longitudinal data in China. Structure: Each panel presentation will last 15 minutes, followed by 5 minutes for audience questions and discussion after each presenter speaks. After the final presentation, the audience members will have an additional 10 minutes for a larger discussion with all of the panelists to more fully explore the overall themes and issues raised during the session. The organizer will introduce the panel topic and the panelists to the audience and manage the time allocations for presentations and discussion. The discussant will provide thoughtful summary to conclude the session.

eGovernment and Institutional Change for Development: Tensions and Synergies in Bangalore City, India
Shefali Virkar, Oxford University, United Kingdom

The past twenty years have witnessed the burgeoning growth of new Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), which enable the electronic production, transmission, processing, communication, and consumption of increasingly vast quantities of information, and whose effect on the political arena has been more significant than any previous technology revolution. Today, ICTs are seen to possess the potential to alter institutions as well as the mechanisms of service delivery, bringing about fundamental changes in the way government operates and transforming in the dynamic between government and its citizens. In India, economic pressures have resulted in a rapid expansion of the country’s urban centres, and property tax has become a major source of revenue for local government bodies. However, municipalities are often beset by administrative and procedural inadequacies, such as a distinct lack of accountability, political interference, poor information collection and disorganisation. This paper seeks to engage with issues related to the use of ICTs in the governmental process through a case study of the use and impact of the Internet and Internet-related technologies on municipal administration within the Indian context, tracing an attempt made by the Bangalore City Municipal Corporation (BBMP) to reform its system of property tax. In doing so, the paper seeks to qualitatively evaluate not only initial project outcome and overall long-term sustainability, but also the impact ICTs have had on institutional change within the given context.

How Internet Cafe in China Affect Children's Health
Liyun Wu, University of Michigan, USA

As computer access becomes easier in China recently, questions are starting to be asked about what that exposure is doing to children?s health. Although computer use may generate similar health consequences like other sedentary activities such as television watching through a displacement of physical activity and increased calorie consumption, computer use impacts health in much more complicated ways. The dangers of online unhealthy information about violence and pornography, the negative peer effects from surroundings in internet cafes, and lack of sleep due to indulging in computer games and chat rooms overnight, all put additional threats to children?s health condition. This paper exploits plausibly exogenous variation in getting access to computer to estimate the effect of computer use on health outcomes. Using some longitudinal data, I find suggestive evidence that children using computers are more likely engaged in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and drinking, and more likely underweight. The health disparity between computer users and non-users are substantial.

Effectiveness of Communication between Governments and Residents during the e-Government Movement
Ying Zhang, University of California, Irvine, USA

Prior to the 21st century, it was hardly possible for people, especially many children, farmers, and factory workers in China to access culture, health and scientific information that are essential and appropriate to them. The digital divide created huge social and economic problems. The new Millennium saw several initiatives trying to minimize the digital divide. This panel presentation will summarize the implementation of these initiatives and discuss its impacts on those digital poor especially those how live in remote and undeveloped areas. It will use statistics in China to measure the effectiveness of information and communication technologies in the applications of e-government.