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Culture, technology, and multivocality in an Internet-age organization

, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, United States

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale . Awarded


In this study, I focused on the interconnections of power, technology, and culture in an attempt to understand how students discursively negotiated their own meanings within a university that represents technology as an ideologically neutral communication system that provides equal opportunities for all students to achieve their academic goals. I explored how students discursively negotiated new identities as communication in virtual space reduces student-teacher interaction in traditional classrooms.

An ethnically diverse group of 30 students provided the data for this study during more than 40 hours of fieldwork spread over 3 months on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I employed multiple methods of gathering data and analyzed participants' e-mail messages and narratives. Participants were generally supportive of technology, although European Americans were more enthusiastic about technology than their African-American and Hispanic counterparts. However, European Americans appeared to trust the communication system, while African-Americans did not trust the system. The perception by African-Americans that instructors were hostile to their communication style may be responsible for their distrust of the system. Participants sent mixed messages about the use of e-mail in classroom contexts. On the one hand, they thought e-mail was great for teacher-student interaction, on the other 24 of the 26 members of focus groups (92%) said computer-assisted classrooms would not improve the teaching-learning situation. In fact 12 of the 26 participants (46%) said the introduction of computer technology into the classroom would actually make them learn less. Finally, there were differences between the African-Americans and European Americans regarding the frequency, content, and style of e-mail communication. This is probably because the rhetorical assumptions of African Americans diverge from instructors' expectations. Participants noted that instructors reacted negatively to the use of African-Americans' high context, indirect style in e-mail messages. Thus, culture may influence one's level of comfort with electronic communication.

This university needs to question the rhetoric of progress that surrounds technology and listen more to diverse voices before investing more in electronic communication.


Obilade, A.O. Culture, technology, and multivocality in an Internet-age organization. Ph.D. thesis, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Retrieved December 19, 2018 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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