New Technologies For the Home-Development of a Theoretical Model of Household Adoption and Use

Alladi Venkatesh, University of California, Irvine
Franco Nicosia, University of California, Berkeley
ABSTRACT - The burgeoning growth in information/communication/multimedia technologies and their possible impact on American consumers and households continue to arouse a great deal of popular and scholarly interest. In particular, the phenomenon of computing in the home has given rise to much debate because of its potential impact on different segments of the society. With the diffusion of these new technologies to the household level, there is a need to understand and develop models of technology adoption and use. In this paper, we present a model that considers two key elements, the social space and the technological space as building blocks for the development of a theoretical model of household adoption and use of new information technologies.
[ to cite ]:
Alladi Venkatesh and Franco Nicosia (1997) ,"New Technologies For the Home-Development of a Theoretical Model of Household Adoption and Use", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24, eds. Merrie Brucks and Deborah J. MacInnis, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 522-528.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24, 1997      Pages 522-528

NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE HOME-DEVELOPMENT OF A THEORETICAL MODEL OF HOUSEHOLD ADOPTION AND USE

Alladi Venkatesh, University of California, Irvine

Franco Nicosia, University of California, Berkeley

ABSTRACT -

The burgeoning growth in information/communication/multimedia technologies and their possible impact on American consumers and households continue to arouse a great deal of popular and scholarly interest. In particular, the phenomenon of computing in the home has given rise to much debate because of its potential impact on different segments of the society. With the diffusion of these new technologies to the household level, there is a need to understand and develop models of technology adoption and use. In this paper, we present a model that considers two key elements, the social space and the technological space as building blocks for the development of a theoretical model of household adoption and use of new information technologies.

INTRODUCTION

No technology in recent memory has aroused as much national and global interest as the computing technology (Scientific American 1995). Not since the emergence of television about forty years ago has there een a technology with such possibilities for profound social change. The new digital age, now augmented by the ubiquitous microcomputers, is variously described as "the mode of information" (Poster 1990), or "cyberculture" (Escobar 1994) and the like. The burgeoning growth in information/communication/multimedia technologies and their possible impact on American consumers and households continue to arouse a great deal of popular and scholarly interest (Venkatesh 1996, Hoffman and Novak 1996). In particular, the phenomenon of computing in the home has given rise to much debate because of its potential impact on different segments of the society. With the diffusion of these new technologies to the household level, there are several interesting and important issues relating to and resulting from their adoption and diffusion.

Under the general rubric of computing in the home, researchers have investigated issues such as the profile of innovators (Dickerson and Gentry 1983), symbolic dimensions of the new technology (Turkle 1995), the nature of computer diffusion (Dutton, Rogers and Suk-Ho 1987, Venkatesh, Dholakia and Dholakia 1996), social psychological factors affecting computer use (McQuarrie and Langemeyer 1987), educational use of computers at home by children (Giacquinta, Bauer, and Levin 1993), post-adoption analysis of home computers (Venkatesh and Vitalari 1987), gender differences in use of computers (Ruddell 1993), telecommuting and work at home (Kraut 1989, Venkatesh and Vitalari 1992), and the growing use of internet (Dholakia, Mundorf and Dholakia 1995, Hoffman and Novak 1996, Blattberg, et. al 1994). There are also international perspectives on home computer use (Bakke 1993, Bjerg and Borreby 1994).

This study provides a theoretical basis for the social processes and factors accounting for the greater integration, or "domestication" of the PC and related information technologies into the American household.

CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATION

Based on our previous empirical work, we offer two views that dominate our thinking about computers in the home, or more generally, technology in the home (Nicosia 1983, Venkatesh and Vitalari 1990, Venkatesh and Vitalari 1992).

They might appear obvious, yet they are quite important. They go something like this:

* Technology shapes people’s lives.

* People shape the character of technology.

The question then is, since both statements seem so self-evident, how can we utilize these statements to say anything meaningful, especially about the technology and the users of technology. The first part of the statement, "technology shapes people’s lives," implies that if the producers of the technology do understand the technology and its implications, they can see the future a little more clearly than others who may not have such a clear understanding. One requirement to see this with such clarity is to acknowledge the reality of the second statement, that is, "people shape the character of the technology." This does not mean that the users of the technology actually shape the physical characteristics of the technology, for that is still in the hands of the makers of the technology. It only means, that the users determine the shape of the technology by their uses and these specific uses become inputs into the next stage of development.

The second statement also means that the computer (or any other technology for that matter) is socially embedded. Many theories of the human/compuer interface that we know of rely on models of cognitive scientific research. The reason why cognitive sciences have played such a key role in our vision or understanding of computers is because of our fascination with the idea of the computer’s likeness to human brain (mind?). We have scores of books on the mental models of computers, as well as computer models of the mind. But there is a competing model, or a complementary model, which is the social model of the computer technology. Translated into the household context, we are looking at two issues, the computerization of the household as well as the domestication of the computer. They represent, respectively, the two statements that we made earlier as part of our main thesis. That is, the producers of technology can play a key role in determining how the modern household is computerized. They have the technological prowess to do soCif only the household participates in this enterprise.

When we began to study computers at home, we were interested in what type of computers did households purchase and what they did with them, how they used them and who used them. We were really focused on learning how families adapted to computers. But, after a few years of intense research, we found that something was missing in our research. Our insights were not as profound as we wanted them to be. It took a while, but it dawned on us, that in order to understand what families did with a computer, we needed first to understand what families did with their vacuum cleaners, with their refrigerators, TVs, telephones, family car, their washing machines, dishwashers, and a whole host of technologies that occupied the physical and social space called the home. So, we came up with an epigrammatic statement that the route to the understanding of how people related to computers was through the study of other domestic techniques.

Before long, we realized that we had to go inside people’s homes, and see how people behaved with respect to their technologies. We wanted to learn what families did with their household technologies. We had to talk to families at length about their experiences with and impressions of household technologies. We realized that for many families, the computer was only one among many other domestic technologies. Some people told us that the computer was not the most important technology in the home. On the other hand, we learnt that family life would come to a dead stop if the refrigerator did not work, for the refrigerator symbolized food and no family can go without food. Similarly, there would be panic if the family telephone went out of order, for telephone meant communication with loved ones, friends, and emergency contacts. In the same fashion, families cannot go to work, or the grocery store, or take children to school if the family car failed. We found that some technologies in the home could be classified as survival technologies and very central to the functioning of the household. Before long, it dawned on us that there was a technological space in which many these technologies were embedded. These technologies are not passive objects in the technological space, they are live, full of meanings for the members of the families who use them. The technological space is also a social space, and more importantly, it is also a symbolic space.

OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The main objective of the study is to develop a theoretical model that gives us the best understanding of the household adoption and use of new information/interactive/multi-media technologies and their diffusion into the various aspects of home life.

TECHNOLOGY AND THE HOUSEHOLD

Some Preliminary Issues

Over the years, a surge of interest in technology and households has been triggered by a multiplicity of factors. The entry of women into the labor force has created the possibility that households might be acquiring a greater number of time-saving devices. Such investigations have been carried out by consumer researchers (Oropesa 1993, Reilly 1982, Strober and Weinberg 1980). Some time-budget research has also been reported in Europe and in the US looking at related issues (Szalai 1972, Michelson 1980, Robinson and Nicosia 1988). The emergence of information and interactive technologies have aroused much popular and scholarly interest (Blattberg, Glazer and Little 1994, Hoffman and Novak 1995, Mick and Fournier 1995). The home of the future seems to be somewhere between fantasy and reality (Berg and Borreby 1994). In addition, there has been much attention paid to the issue of home technologies by feminist sociologists who are rather critical that of some of the household technologies have in fact perpetuated women’s domestic roles instead of liberating them (Cockburn and Ormrod 1993, Cowan 1989, Vanek 1978, Zimmerman 1983). Considering these various developments on home-based technologies, one is forced to recall a quote by Nicosia (1983): "technology is usually associated with production processes and various social science disciplines have researched the effects of technology in work activities...The effect of technology in consumption 'activities’ has been largely ignored or taken for granted...By focusing on family as the institutional setting for a great deal of consumer behavior, we should gain a better understanding of the interdependencies between technology and consumers..."

Given that the household is a central social setting for the adoption and use of the new technologies, the question remains as to what appropriate theoretical model is or can be made available for studying this relationship. Such a model will certainly be most useful for consumer researchers as well as practitioners engaged in producing products and services for the households. The purpose of this study is therefore to develop a "household-technology interaction model" as a conceptual basis for understanding household behavior as it pertains to the adoption and use of household technologies.

A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: HOUSEHOLD/TECHNOLOGY INTERACTION

Background Issues

Although research on household technology is limited in the consumer literature, some key studies have been reported over the past few years (Nickols and Fox 1983; Oropesa 1993; Strober and Weinberg 1980). Typically, these studies have focused on the purchase decisions of families in regard to household technologies (e.g. kitchen appliances) and/or the use of technologies primarily as time saving devices. While these studies provide some important and useful theoretical background for our work, there are three ways in which our approach differs from or extends their work. First, our focus is the actual use of technology, not just the purchase decision or incidence of ownership. Second, we examine how technology fits into the over all consumption context of household behavior and not just on cost or time savings. Finally, we consider the social context of technology adoption and use to be a key element of our theoretical framework.

Once we go beyond consumer research, we find that several researchers have formulated basic theoretical notions about the social, economic, and cultural aspects of technology utilization in various contexts ranging from communities, organizations, households, and across individuals.

We now identify some key issues from previous studies which can be classified into four primary streams.

First, the socio-technical systems theory of technology adoption and use views an organization (in our case the household) as a social systm, and technology as an autonomous environmental system that acts on the social system as an external agent (Hedberg and Mumford 1975; Danziger 1979; Danziger and Kraemer 1986). This view is a product of systems theory which was a reigning paradigm in the social sciences during the fifties up until the mid-seventies. This approach has been criticized as being too deterministic and considering technology only as external to the adopting organization, and the organization/technology interface merely as the meeting point of two independent systems. In other words, the socio-technical systems approach fails to recognize that technology is interior to the household environment (although produced physically outside of the home) and not external to it, and that there is a dynamic relationship between the two. As Woodward (1994) has shown, technology is neither neutral nor autonomous but is integral to the social character of the (social) system.

The second approach, which is more common among organizational theorists and social constructivist theorists in Europe, views technologies as socially embedded processes (Cronberg 1994; Kling 1980, 1995). That is, unlike the socio-technical systems approach which views technology as autonomous and outside the social organization, the social-embeddedness theory examines technology as integral to the social organization. The basic position here is that no technology can be examined in isolation but only in the social context of its use and not its physical origin. We take this position in the current study, utilizing the underlying idea and applying it specifically to the household.

The third approach is based on the extensions of the new-home economics (Becker 1976) which’ consider technology in the context of household production and consumption (Berk 1980). In this view, technologies are viewed as time (and/or cost) saving devices, and households as optimizers of time/cost-allocations based on household preference functions. This is a valuable framework for understanding household behavior, and more importantly, to assess the task environment within the household.

The fourth stream of research is reflected in the time-budget studies and is closely related to the third stream. Robinson is credited with the main contributions to this area (1977, 1980, 1990). The focus here is on developing a scheme of time allocation by households for various household activities. The approach is more descriptive, analytical, and data rich, but not too theoretical. In other words, time-budget studies allow researchers to draw some conclusions about how household time allocation patterns change temporally and cross-sectionally, but there are no adequate theoretical explanations for these changes.

A synthesis of previous work in these three areas of research (Berk 1980, Hardyment 1988; Morgan et al 1966; Nicosia 1975, 1983; Nickols and Fox 1983; Oropesa 1993; Vanek 1978; Strober and Weinberg 1980) suggests that the household may be viewed as a social system divided into task environment and non-task environment, and technologies as part of the social system. The basic approach here may be described as structural/functional. Typically, households, or members of a household, appropriate technologies to perform a variety of activities within these two environments. One objective of using these technologies is to increase time savings or achieve other efficiencies specific to the situation. This is particularly true of task oriented technologies (washer, dryer, vacuum cleaner etc.,). Household members also use technologies with the purpose of relaxing and experiencing the aesthetic enjoyment associated with watching TV or listening to Stereo music. With the structural/functional perspective of technology-use serving as the springboard, we have expanded our theoretical design into a structural/dynamic model of household-technology interface, which is the focal model for our present study.

Model Development and Specification

Our theoretical framework is motivated by a concern to understand the role technoloy plays in family life. We conceptualize the household [For the most part, we use the terms family and household interchangeable. Sometimes, "household" may sound more appropriate as in household technology (rather than family technology) and some times the opposite is true as in the case of family dynamics or family values. The technical distinction between the two terms is that family denotes kinship, that is, a network of people who are related through blood or marriage while household refers to a group of related or unrelated people sharing a common domestic space (Netting, Wilk and Arnould 1984).] in terms of two main components that are interlinked-the social space in which the family behavior occurs and the technological space in which the household technologies are embedded. It is the interaction between the social space and the technological space, and the resulting behaviors that are focus of this paper. Figure 1 provides a schematic relationship between the social space and the technological space. Figure 2 is an internal structural representation of the household that incorporates the key elements of Figure 1 in greater detail.

Modified Structural/Functionalist View

The theoretical framework underlying our approach may be labeled the modified structural/functional approach to the study of family behavior.

The theoretical grounding for our study requires that we come up with a framework that integrates some general concepts of family behavior and some specific concepts of behavior oriented toward technology use. Since there is no single theory of family behavior that would meet these needs, we resort to two levels of theoretical integration. First, we propose a theory of family behavior that combines certain key elements from the structural/functional theory of the family, the new-home economic theory of activity-time allocation, the social dynamics approach of family development theories, and the feminist theories which focus on sexual-division of labor in the family. Second, this integrated product is further integrated into another theoretical stream of research that focuses on technology.

Our starting point is the structural/functionalist approach of Parsons (1957) further elaborated in the works of others. According to the structural-functional view, the internal structure of the family is based on generational and gender structure and attendant roles; the domestic social environment in which household activities are performed; the symbolic modes of behavior that contribute to family development and emotional stability; and, finally, the domains of family life that act as links to external environment such as paid-work or employment and education. Generally speaking, the structural-functional configuration of the family constitutes the family as practically but not completely autonomous for it is subject to external influences from the changing technological environment.

While the basic ideas of the structural/functionalist approach are still valid, a significant number of them have been contested. For example, many earlier ideas on sexual-division of labor are now considered outmoded along with the notion of nuclear family as the ideal family type. Several authors (Oakley 1984, for example) have noted that, in recent years, new family forms have emerged giving rise to new theories of family structure and gender relationships. We nevertheless agree with the main tenets of the structural/functionalists that families are not isolated institutions but are differentiated from other institutions in their specific role within the society and the functions they perform.

We recognize the key ideas of the new-home economists that households undertake production and consumption functions and perform various activities associated with these functions, and allocate time across activities according to their needs. However, we are not totally convinced that households engage in rational/utility maximum behaviors to the exclusion of expressive behaviors. Family behavior is much more motivated by social-psychological concerns and is very much embedded in the larger cultural context of rituals, meanings and other practices that are bound by tradition (Sahlins 1976).

Finally, we agree with the family development theorists that psycho-social determinants of family behaviors are very important in understanding those behaviors. But we reject the notion that family behaviors arise primarily out of pathological conditions. The idea that family space is a social space and family dynamics are a special form social dynamics is qute relevant to our study.

Finally, according to the structural-functionalist view (Parsons and Bales 1957; Coser 1964; Goode 1964; Hareven 1982), the family is conceptualized as a social organization which has an external orientation in relation to the larger social order and an internal orientation in relation to its own domestic order. In this study, our main (but not exclusive) concern is with the internal orientation of the family which comprises the social space and the technological space.

Social Space

As shown in Figure 1 [A], the social space is configured in terms of the family members [A.1] (i.e. the adopters and users of household technology), the sub-environments [A.2] in which the family members conduct their lives, and household activities [A.3] which are performed within the sub-environments by the family members. The family membership is structured generationally (parent/child) as well as by gender (male/female) and the family members are presumed to be motivated by personal and social needs in performing household activities.

FIGURE 1

HOUSEHOLD STRUCTURE AND TECHNOLOGY USE

Figure 2 gives a more derailed picture of the sub-environments in which the family life takes placeCfood management, household management/finance, leisure/recreation/entertainment, social/family communication, work/employment, family development/well being. Similarly, it also identifies the family members (who are the adopters and users of technology), and the household activities that they perform.

The first component [A.2, Figure 1], the sub-environments corresponds to the categories identified by Robinson (1977) and Robinson et al. (1989) in their time-budget studies. The second component [A.1] suggests that the characteristics of the family members as adopters and users of the technologies are relevant in terms of the nature and patterns of technology use and the particular social roles and responsibilities that they assume within the household. The third component [A.3], which is the set of household activities performed by family members in each sub-environment, suggests that these activities are targeted for technology use. The activities shown in the Figure 2 are illustrative, not exhaustive.

Technological Space

Within this broad structural/functionalist view of the family, we introduce some basic theoretical ideas concerning the technological space. Technology is viewed by some as a system of tools and tool-using behavior (Escobar 1994). It is premised on the notion that technology is a means to achieving practical ends and therefore tends to be viewed in utilitarian terms. That is, other things being equal and given the specific needs of the users of technology, the users will be interested in the functionality of technology and will always prefer a particular technology that performs better than some other equivalent technology based on the criterion of functionality.

With specific reference to information technology, Moses (1981) notes that the adoption of information technology is more complex than most household technologies, and therefore is mediated by a more in-depth knowledge/understanding of the technology and an evaluation of its applicability to specific user needs. In contrast to this utilitarian approach, Kling (1981) proposes that information technology also needs to be assessed in terms of the social context in which it is embeddedCthe implication for our study being that since the household is a social organization that gives rise to various social interactions and dynamics, technologies acquire meanings in relation to such family dynamics. The adoption of technologies therefore may be a socially motivated decision rather than a purely utilitarian decision. It is our view that both the utilitarian and social perspectives are relevant, and together they determine the nature of the technological space.

The technological space consists of the configuratio of household technologies (Figures 1 [B.1]) that are used within each sub-environment and are subject to a variety of uses by the family members in the performance of their activities. Technological space also includes family attitudes [toward] and levels of satisfaction [with] technology[B.2].

FIGURE 2

A REPRESENTATION OF THE INTERNAL STRUCTURE OF THE HOUSEHOLD-TECHNOLOGY INTERACTION

Sub-environments, Activities, and Technologies

Figure 2 exemplifies the fit of a technology into the social organization of the household, as defined by the sub-environments. The notion of the sub-environment is key to our study. The term environment suggests that members of the household occupy a certain social and physical space. These environments are not mutually exclusive but conceptually distinct.

Food Management

Household Maintenance/Finance

Leisure/Recreation/Entertainment

Work/Employment

Social/Family Communication

Family Development/Well-Being

We postulate that a variety of household activities are performed by the members of the family in each sub-environment. These activities are determined by family needs and structural conditions appropriate to each sub-environment. The members of the household who perform the activities are a key component of the model for without them the social and technological spaces have no meaning. While the members of the household collectively occupy the subenvironment space, none has equal participation in them. For example, adults are more likely to be involved in cooking within a household as compared to children, and therefore are considered central actors within that environment. Another component not specifically shown in the model but is certainly implied is the household composition and the demographics of the household. This component is particularly critical if one were to study the changing family structure over its life cycle.

The technologies of the household are the other component of the model and are linked to the sub-environment by their location in the social space, and linked to the set of activities by their functionality. Collectively, the technologies constitute the technological space. Not only is it logical and necessary to put technologies in each sub-environment as part of the structural aspect of the model, but the structure of the sub-environment is such that a given technology may belong to more than one sub-environment. In addition, household technologies may either compete with or complement each other within the same sub-environment or across subenvironments. Thus, computers are shown in more than one sub-environment (family development (children’s education), leisure and recreation, work/employment, and household maintenance/finance). Similarly, automobiles and telephones can also be embedded in multiple sub-environments.’

So far we have discussed the structural aspects of the model. We shall now turn our attention to the "dynamic" aspects of the model. That is, it is necessary to address the issue of how this model functions in practice and how the components are related to each other.

The model relies on the basic idea that domestic technologies (e.g. computers) must fit the social space of the household and, specifically, they have to fit the perceptual and physical space of the sub-environments in which they are located. This fit is achieved when the members of the household are able to perform the activities within a given sub-environment using the appropriate technologies. The notion of fit is very central to our conceptualization of the household/technology interaction and requires that the following four conditions be satisfied in respect to the technology and the sub-environment.

Condition A: The sub-environment must be salient to the household.

Example: In families with children, the Family Development environment will be very salient.

Condition B: The technology must be seen as significant or important for the sub-environment. That is, the technology must be seen as contributing to the performance of an activity within the sub-environment. As a corollary, in the event that a technology is designed to replace an existing technology the replacing technology must be seen as performing at a superior level (or at the very least at an equal level) compared to the existing technology.

Example: The computers must be seen as being useful to children’s education.

Condition C: There must be at least one member of the household who uses the technology in a given sub-environment. For our purpose, a member may include hired help.

Example: Households with children are more likely to have children’s educational software than families without children.

Condition D: The technology must be easy enough to operate by members of the household who occupy the particular social space.

Example: This condition is critical because the complexity of computing technology might limit or restrict the members’ use of it, even if they have a need for it.

It is important to point out that just because a technology belongs to more than one environment, it does not mean it has a stronger position within the social space compared to a technology that belongs to only one sub-environment. For example, in our field work, when asked to name the two most important technologies in the home, a majority of our respondents cited the refrigerator as the most important technology followed by the telephone. When we analyzed our in-depth probings, we found that the meanings of these technologies to the users appeared to be that the refrigerator represents food and, therefore, survival, while the telephone represents communication and, therefore, social interaction. The refrigerator example is particularly interesting because it demonstrates that a technology might belong to only one subenvironment and be most salient for that environment, and, therefore, considered most critical to the household. At the other extreme, a technology might belong to many sub-environments and still have low salience in all of them. Alternatively, another technology might belong to multiple sub-environments and might be salient to a sub-set of these. In the case of computers, we show in Figure 2 that the computer can theoretically fit into all the sub-environments. The question that needs to be answered is how salient is it in each of the sub-environments in which it is located.

In sum, the theoretical framework helps us identify two key building blocks for our proposed model: the social space and the technological space, the former constituted by the social structure of the household and the activities performed within the household, and the latter representing the nature of the technological environment within the household.

How does the model help us understand computer use? First, it is based on the perspective of the user, that is, the emic perspective, rather than being imposed from outside.

Second, related to the first, the household-technology model enables us to examine computers not merely from the point of view of the technology but from an understanding of the household behavior. That is, what we have proposed is not a technology-driven model but a user(household)-oriented model.

Third, our household-technology model looks at a whole range of technologies, giving us an opportunity to examine computers in relation to other technologies. During the ethnographic field work, it became very clear that in order to understand the adoption/use issues of computers, one must view the total technoogical space of the household. Otherwise, very little insights will be gained by looking at computers alone.

Finally, the total fit of the computer into the sub-environment, that is, the ability to satisfy all the conditions (A to D), reveals its use potential.

Let us elaborate some of these issues still further. The model helps us understand two constructs: how computers and new media technologies may be adopted and used, and what the internal dynamics of family life are that determine the successful (or unsuccessful) adoption and use of the technologies, that is, the interaction between the social space and the technological space.

More specifically, our earlier research has shown that computers were once located in the sub-environment called "Work/Employment," and did not diffuse into other environments in any significant way. With the emergence of new technologies of multimedia and on-line services and their potential for a greater variety of family applications, coupled with the growing sophistication of the users of technology, the model recognizes this possibility and provides an enabling structure for examining the technological diffusion into other sub-environments. Thus the nature of multimedia diffusion into other sub-environments can be a very important focus of future studies.

Second, there is growing evidence that the adopter and user profiles are changing. The modal user in earlier studies was the adult male in the family. Current trends suggest a growing number of users are children as young as four or five years old. In other words, the diffusion of information technology occurs not only across the sub-environments, as stated above, but across and among family members.

Third, in a similar fashion to the changing profile of users and uses, their is some evidence that new household activities are emerging that did not exist before. That is, not only do existing household activities determine the nature of information-technology use but there is a feed back in the opposite direction from technology to household activities. Some recent examples include (but not limited to) the use of electronic mail for communication, developing family archives and medical histories, and home banking and check payment.

Fourth, our model will be useful in examining the claim as to how the new technologies of information are gradually becoming the key technology in the home replacing the telephone and television which currently enjoy this status.

Finally, the model enables us to evaluate the dynamic relationship between the social space (i.e. the sub-environments/the users/the activities) and the technological space (the configuration of the technologies) and make predictions about the social transformation of the household both in terms of its internal environment and external environment.

CONCLUSION

No technology works in a vacuum. The social setting of the household must be clearly understood in order to gain a clear understanding on household adoption and use of technologies. We see two forces acting in this regard. First, the technology itselfCup to a pointChas the ability to change the way family life is organized. Second, and simultaneously, the household itself can shape the character of the technology by acting upon it. These two forces are, respectively, the computerization of the household and the domestication of the computer. Besides these two forces, there is a third element which states that the new technologies of information/communication/entertainment must be understood in the context of the other technologies in the household.

Our aim in the paper was to develop a conceptual model of the household, its organization within a social space and, second, a conceptualization of the technological space within the household. 'We have labeled this model the "household/tchnology interaction" model. Using this model, we discussed discuss how domestic technologies (not just the computers) interact with the sub-environments of the household. Hopefully, our model can be improved further and refined as we keep examining the relevant issues with greater care and attention.

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