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This thesis is essentially about human interaction and engagement with ICTs, in this case the internet. Its primary objective is to explain how human-techno relationships are constructed, maintained and modified, and to assess a number of social factors influential in the shaping process.
The thesis presents a qualitative in-depth analysis of 16 households, in order to provide an understanding of the intricate and subtle processes of domestication and how they are influenced by a range of social factors. In Ireland, traditional studies of internet users have been general and wide-scale. Thus, a small scale, user-focused qualitative analysis of the ways internet technologies are becoming technologies of everyday life is timely. Therefore, the present study marks a move away from determinist-focused reports, towards a social shaping of technology perspective, in order to analyse the influence of social factors on the domestication and consumption of the internet in the household.
The major conclusion of this research is that one must look beyond a single influence or social factor to accurately portray the nature of domestic internet consumption. The current study presents a multi-layered analysis of how social factors, especially social class, gender, age and economic factors influence the use and consumption of the internet. In addition, case-studies of individual households are used to examine the influence of such factors in depth. A user-based analysis of the domestication process, rendered from an application of the Silverstone model, is constructed. Through this practical application, an understanding is gained of the complex processes of domestication involved in acquisition, use, consumption and conceptualisation of technologies in 'everyday' life. The present thesis provides concrete examples and experiences of social factors working together to shape the ways people create themselves as users, and the ways they form relationships with and engage with the artefact.
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