Pamela Varley


This research seeks to develop an advanced understanding of the interplay between broadband use, social interaction and the place in which people live. Fieldwork has involved working in an embedded manner within a central case study neighbourhood, a rural Cornish village – St Breward. A wide range of methods has been employed, including social network analysis, survey research, qualitative interviewing and a diary study. Results have painted a picture of how a community is structured, how it operates (both socially and spatially), and how technology infuses with this. The research presented here illustrates the unique nature of social operations within a rural village; the vital roles and space governance carried out by gatekeepers operating within that rural place; and the different ways in which residents embrace and imagine technology. The reliance of a rural community on the 'local' and upon more traditional means of communication is evident at every juncture, posing an interesting question as to how superfast broadband can be made applicable in the local rural setting, harnessed as a community asset and, hence, used for positive social transformation. The distinctive symbiosis of factors at play within rural zones warrants attention. Research presented here contributes to the knowledge gap on how to design for rural life, advocating an approach in which those responsible for technology deployment consider the nature of place when doing so, being sensitive to how rural communities are socially organized, and the ways in which they use and imagine technology, potentially leading to a wealth of both community and industry benefits.

Document Type


Publication Date