This is my brief post for The Equality Trust. Social inequalities play a key role in information society, influencing citizens’ engagement in political, social, cultural and education life. Social inequalities influence the way in which individuals access, use and enjoy the benefits of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), and the internet in particular.
Inequalities connected with the introduction of ICTs are intertwined with already existing social inequalities, in a circular and cumulative process. Groups slower in adopting the new technology will not always will be able to bridge the gap with the fastest, with the consequent growth of differential access and use. It is likely that over time the problem of the gap in access will tend to decrease. In the UK, for instance, more than 90% of population access the internet. However, at the same time, inequalities in using ICTs are increasing. Indeed, not all technological innovations are equal, since some citizens/users may have more capacity/skills/motivation/interest than others in accessing and using such technologies. As several studies have suggested, digital inequalities, in terms of political participation, healthcare and education, are entangled with already-existing social inequalities.