Exploring Rural Digital Hubs and Their Possible Contribution to Communities in Europe

Christina Theresia Rundel, Koen Salemink, Dirk Strijker

Abstract


This article offers a conceptualization of rural digital hubs and outlines the variations among them. Using content analysis applied to websites and results from a survey, we draw a clearer picture of rural digital hub designs in the European context and how these relate to their socio-economic context. To explore their possible wider impact on rural communities, we apply the concept of community resilience. The study finds that there are various rural digital hub subtypes targeting businesses, community members, or both. There is a tendency to diversify such places or even to combine several subtypes, and we argue that this is a necessity if the hub providers are to reach the number of users required to generate added value, especially in the rural context. We have also found that rural digital hubs tend to address businesses and that it is expected that these places can to an extent contribute to community resilience. Furthermore, we narrow down the definition of a rural digital hub and suggest to make it place dependent whether and how to implement new ones.

Keywords: Rural digital hubs, digital literacy, smart rural development, digital divide, community resilience

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.

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