An Activity Theory Study of China’s Rural Book House Project

How to Cite

Zhou, W. (2024). An Activity Theory Study of China’s Rural Book House Project: Two Dialectical Dynamic Mechanisms. International Journal of Librarianship, 9(1), 3–26.
Received 2023-05-06
Accepted 2023-08-30
Published 2024-04-29


This study explores why China’s rural information projects tend to be inefficient by identifying the dynamic mechanisms driving the construction and development of China’s Rural Book House Project (RBHP). A qualitative survey was used to collect data from 35 participants in the RBHP and to analyze the data through the lens of activity theory. Two dynamic mechanisms were found, namely power coordination and benefit protection, with the former characterized by compulsion, self-interest, and inefficient punitive measures and the latter by the participants’ differing objectives when pursuing benefits. The interaction of these mechanisms drove the RBHP forward. The findings of the study suggest the development process of the RBHP and other similar projects need to be reanalyzed from an integrative, dynamic and connected perspective. By way of concluding, insights concerning the measures the Chinese government could take to resolve the issues confronted in rural information service development as well as the need for information professionals to take a critical stance toward their community practice are offered.


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