Offline – online relations in the Digital Age: A study of lived Internet experience within a group of professional Bolivian women
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TO EXPERIENCE THE INTERNET The focus of my research is on how a group of women from Bolivia experience the Internet. All the women in the group are professionals who are undergoing training on a postgraduate educational programme, and which requires use of the Internet on a daily basis. Experience is a key concept of the study. To get an understanding of this elusive and debatable concept, a qualitative study was conducted based on the analysis of interviews, undertaken both individually and in group. The chosen methodology for interpreting the accounts of these women mixes elements of narrative and discourse analysis which allows one to go beyond a simple descriptive presentation of Internet access and its uses. The epistemological and theoretical principles, which draw upon different proposals within feminist studies, provide a base on which we can build an understanding of the subject of the study from within the context. This reading offers a vision of an intertwined presence of subjective and structural elements which constitute the Internet experience. Therefore, emotions such as fear, guilt, satisfaction and hope are discussed; but also factors such as the family, education, economy and other relevant cultural aspects from which gender-aware individuals produce meaning and give sense to their lives. In short, this study is presented as a broad exploration of the topic, rather than a definitive and replicable explanation.