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The Village Says “No”: Why Online ADR is Not (Yet) Working in Rural India


This paper argues that online dispute resolution (ODR) has not been readily accepted in India’s rural hinterlands. This field study involved a trip to a “typical rural village” in North India with a population of approximately 3,000 people. Barriers to acceptance include IT literacy and connectivity, English language platforms and learning resources, reliance on and preference for village-based dispute-resolution systems, mistrust of external authority, lack of awareness of the benefits of ODR, and gender and cultural issues. We find that some villagers may be interested in ODR, but its adaption requires not only outlining the advantages of ODR but also creating a sense of ownership and managing resistance to outsiders. This could be done by providing training to groups likely to benefit from ODR, including youth, women, and NGOs. The case study also has theoretical implications for the study of comparative access to legal services, the relationship between concepts of rights and local concepts of morality, and for the persistence of social structure and “traditional” means of dispute resolution despite the possibility of access to “modern” forms of legal services.

Published: 2021-05-04
Pages:133 to 147
Section: Articles
How to Cite
Clammer, John, and Matthew John Byrne. 2021. “The Village Says ‘No’: Why Online ADR Is Not (Yet) Working in Rural India”. Law, Technology and Humans 3 (1):133-47.

Author Biography

O.P. Jindal Global University
India India

Prof. (Dr.) John Clammer is a Professor at Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities. He comes to the university after a long period in Japan as Professor of Comparative Sociology and Asian Studies at Sophia University and formerly Director of the Graduate School of Comparative Culture there, and as Visiting Professor at the United Nations University, Tokyo. He is a graduate of Oxford University and completed his D.Phil. degree there in Social Anthropology. He has lived and worked around the world and has been a university teacher, visiting professor or fellow at a number of universities including Oxford, the Australian National University, Buenos Aires, Kent, Hull, the National University of Singapore, Handong (South Korea), Pondicherry Central University and the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. He has published widely across a range of areas including development sociology, religion, art and society, urban sociology, social and cultural theory, and economic anthropology. He has just completed a new book on the cultural dimensions of sustainability and continues to work on issues around the interface of culture and development which was the subject of books published in 2012 and 2015 and he hopes to continue this emphasis at JGU and where possible explore its relevance to contemporary India.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074