Converting Digital Capital in Five Key LifeRealms

Ragnedda, M., Ruiu, M. L., Addeo, F., Delli Paoli, A. (2022). Converting Digital Capital in Five
Key Life Realms.
Italian Sociological Review, 12 (1), 19-40.

This article theorizes fresh connections between Bourdieusian social theory, and the digital divide in five key areas: political, economic, cultural, social, and personal digital advantage. In so doing it makes new arguments about how digital resources result in benefits that accrue from the combination of both access to and use of ICTs. In this way, the findings shed additional light on the third level of the digital divide by focusing on the role played by digital capital in influencing the uneven distribution of benefits that derive from the use of the Internet. Based on a structured sample of the UK population, the article adopts the model of digital capital developed by Ragnedda, Ruiu and Addeo (2019). Findings show that varied levels of digital capital are related to engagement in activities that have political, social, economic, cultural, and personal valence. Thus, the study offers compelling evidence of the increasing importance of digital capital in everyday life.

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Conceptualizing the techno-environmental habitus

Maria Laura Ruiu, Gabriele Ruiu and Massimo Ragnedda (2021) Conceptualizes the techno-environmental habitus, First Monday, 26(11).

This paper conceptualizes the techno-environmental habitus to explore differentiation among media users and their climate change awareness by adopting a dynamic concept that takes into consideration both pre-existing conditions and interactions with the technological field of action. The paper investigates the characteristics of multi-layered dispositions towards climate change in the U.K. through an online survey of a representative sample of the U.K. population (N=1,013). Results show that, despite the predominance of advocacy positions, four different techno-environmental habitus point to a fragmented landscape, but also a “chameleon”, transformative capacity of habitus, given that some common traits are shared by the groups. Beyond the four different patterns related to techno-environmental attitudes, one of the most interesting findings relates to the fatalistic techno-environmental habitus, which presents some traits in common with the scepticism and advocacy approaches but tends to be discouraged with regard to taking action. The identification of the nuances of techno-environmental habitus is relevant for climate change policy implementation because they may facilitate or hinder both individual and collective action.

This paper adopts the concept of habitus to interpret differentiation among technology users and their perception of climate change. The public disposition towards climate change is a relevant aspect of climate policy and is largely influenced by the use of news media (Schäfer and Painter, 2020). The originality of this work lies in exploring the interaction between techno-use and environmental dispositions, revealing different techno-environmental habitus, which may either facilitate or hinder both individual and collective sustainable actions.

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Use of science in British newspapers’ narratives of climate change

Ruiu, M. L., & Ragnedda, M. (2021). Use of science in British newspapers’ narratives of climate changeStudies in Communication Sciences, 1–20. (Open Access)

Abstract. This paper investigates the use of science in British newspapers’ narratives of climate change between 1988 and 2016. It is based on the analysis of eight newspapers and their Sunday and online versions (Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Daily Express, The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent). We used the keywords “climate / climatic change”, “warm / warming” and “greenhouse / greenhouse effect” to retrieve the articles from the Nexis / Lexis database. To identify the articles with a specific focus on climate change, we included only those containing the keywords in the headline (9789 items). Framing theory helps interpret the process of construction of the “threat” through science by showing a tendency towards scientific consensus for the centre / left-leaning newspapers, and an instrumental use of consensus for the centre-right. These findings are useful for both scientists and policymakers interested in understanding how climate narratives can promote delay in action on climate change.

The article has two main research questions. The first question relates to the evolution of CC scientific frames in British newspaper re­porting over time:

RQ 1: How have scientific frames of CC evolved in British newspaper reporting?

The sec­ond question investigates the themes associated with the use of scientific frames:

RQ 2: What are the prominent stories associated with the use of scientific frames over time?

The analysis of the topics associated with the use of scientific frames is relevant to understand what topics and aspects of ev­ery day are associated with the scientific construction of CC.

Here the full article

A few takeaways from our presentation at the Digital Inclusion Policy and Research conference 2021

The Digital Inclusion Policy and Research conference 2021, organized by Prof. Simon Yates and Dr. Elinor Carmi, has drawn upon over two decades of research, policy, and practice.  The primary aim of this conference was to link up international policy efforts to address digital inequalities, access and skills with the outcomes of recent research from around the globe. The conference was a mix of invited presentations from policy and research colleagues, along with open paper sessions.

Maria Laura Ruiu, Felice Addeo and I, in a research paper titled “Internet as a tool of social inclusivity”, attempted to shed light onto the gradual process of digital inclusion.

Here a few takeaways from our presentation.

Our analysis shows the different ways the Internet is used by individuals to increase their “social inclusion” and how, despite their access to the Internet, those people at risk of social exclusion are more likely to lack the digital experience necessary to fully exploit the possibilities the Internet can offer.

By contrast, those who tend to obtain more benefits from the use of the Internet are, on average, young, well-educated and with a higher income, thus reinforcing their already privileged social positions.

Different levels of digital inclusion are related to socioeconomic and sociodemographic features, namely gender, age, income, education and occupation.

Our data contributes to reinforcing the idea that offline social structures and practices influence individuals’ ability to use digital technologies as an empowering tool of social inclusion.

Socially disadvantaged citizens, even when they access to the Internet, tend to not fully exploit the benefits offered by it, missing the opportunity to use the Internet as a tool of social inclusivity.

As a vicious circle, those already (socially) marginalized miss the opportunity to use the Internet as a tool of social inclusivity, thus being further marginalized.

The results of this research might help policy makers to identify where they should intervene, which areas need more attention and which lack of digital competences need to be mitigated.

Towards digital sustainability: the long journey to the sustainable development goals 2030

Sparviero, S., Ragnedda, M. (2021) Towards digital sustainability: the long journey to the sustainable development goals 2030, Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance,

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to suggest that, to build a digital sustainable society, core terminal and instrumental values of sustainability and sustainable development should be followed across different worldviews, and in the formulation of policies or other initiatives form private and public stakeholders. These values are normative, they support the coordination of efforts of different stakeholders and can serve as guidelines for driving the development trajectory of technologies contributing to a sustainable society.

Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual paper defines digital sustainability from the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. From the Rio Process (1992), through the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), this paper analyzes and theoretically discusses the intersection between digital aspects of human life and wider sustainability concerns for humanity and the planet. Technologies and digital processes are functional catalysts to the achievement of the UN 2030 SDGs and crucial for individuals’ everyday life, but their adoptions is also conditional to a variety of conflicting worldviews.

Findings – This paper focused on the role of digital technologies in innovation and transformation and their impact on the environment, individuals, society and economy, from a theoretical point of view. Digital technologies have changed the way in which people communicate, study, work, interact and even look for friends, relationships and love. It is, therefore, important to reflect upon the impact that this revolution would have on the individuals and on the wider socio-economic, political and environment context. In this vein, this paper attempted to reflect on the sustainability of this revolution, by sketching the concept of digital sustainability drawing upon the concept of sustainability.

Originality/value – Digital sustainability – like sustainability – relies on three universal values: equality, harmony, self-determination. In fact, to be sustainable, the use of digital technologies should be led by the equality value, namely, the need to not compromise the future generations, both in terms of exploitation of natural resources to produce them and in terms of to create and nor reduce job opportunities for future generations. Second, digital technologies might help tackling both the ecological and social crises through a universal collaboration according to the harmony’s value. Finally, the third value for digital sustainability is self-determination. It applies to individuals and social formations and it refers to the capability of being in control of your destiny.

IAMCR Digital Divide Working Group: a special session for the Media Soc Symposium (CITAMS)

The IAMCR Digital Divide Working Group will hold a special session on Digital Capital on Thursday, August 5, 2021, as part of the Media Soc Symposium organised by CITAMS (the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology section of the American Sociological Association).

The session will be chaired by Maria Laura Ruiu (Northumbria Unviersity)

Please, come and join us here:

We will start our session with a presentation of the theoretical foundations of digital capital by Massimo Ragnedda, Northumbria University.

The second presentation will be about the empirical investigation of digital capital in Russia, by Elena Vartanova, Anna Gladkova, and Denis Dunas, Lomonosov Moscow State University.

The third presentation will explore the role of digital capital in achieving online tangible outcomes in multiple life realms, by Angela Delli Paoli – University of Salerno (Italy).

The final presentation will introduce the results of the DigiCapItaly project, which uses Digital Capital as a tool to analyze Digital Divide and Digital Inclusion in Italy, by Felice Addeo – University of Salerno (Italy) and Gabriella Punziano – University of Naples Federico II° (Italy).

Our session will start at 9am (Chicago time, 3pm BST) on THURSDAY, AUGUST 5 2021.

The rise of digital underclass. A takeaway from the IAMCR webinar “Digital Divide and Digital Inclusion”

On March 19 2021, we organized the first webinar in the IAMCR webinar series – ‘Digital Divide and Digital Inclusion‘ sponsored by Digital Divide Working Group. The webinar discussed digital divide and digital inclusion of various social groups. Presentations covered recent research on digital inclusion of disabled people, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, minor ethnic and cultural groups, and the evolution of digital inequalities from digital divide to algorithms divide.The well-attended event was moderated by Prof, Elena Vartanova (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia), and see the participation of leading scholars in digital inequalities, such as Prof. Gerard Goggin, (Nanyang Technological University) who presented a paper on: ‘AI and digital inclusion: The case of disability’; Anna Gladkova (Lomonosov Moscow State University) & Nikita Argylov (Far Eastern Federal University) with a paper titled ‘Digital inclusion and ethnicity: Mapping differences between Russians and Yakuts online’; Bibi Reisdorf (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) presented a paper titled ‘Digital inclusion of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals: Case studies from the United States’; and, finally, myself with a paper titled ‘From digital divide to algorithms divide: The evolution of digital inequalities’.

In my presentation I proposed a new way to (re)think, analyse and understand inequalities in the digital age. The last decades have witnessed the rise of a new underprivileged and disadvantaged class in the digital society: the digital underclass. More specifically, I underlined how the digital underclass citizens are not only those who are disadvantaged in their access (non-users), use of ICTs (digitally unskilled) to improve their quality of life or in coping with the negative outcomes (the three levels of digital divide) but also those who are negatively affected by big data, AI and algorithms.

New Book series on Digital Inequalities (Palgrave)

Calling all Digital Divide Scholars!
Your work has a new home in Palgrave Studies in Digital Inequalities: we are seeking monographs and
edited volumes that speak to any aspect of digital inequality, digital divides, and digital inclusion writ

We welcome monographs and edited volumes that are empirical, theoretical, agenda‐setting, and/or policy driven that explore any aspect of inequality, marginalization, inclusion, and/or positive change in the digital world. The series seeks scholars studying both emergent and established forms of inequality.
Potential themes include but are not limited to digital inequalities in relation to AI, algorithms,
misinformation, digital labor, platform economy, cybersafety, cybercrime, gaming, big data, the digital
public sphere, economic class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, aging, disability, healthcare,
education, rural residency, networks, public policy, etc.

Massimo Ragnedda, Senior Lecturer in Mass Communication at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK,
and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia.
Laura Robinson, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Santa Clara University, USA, and
Faculty Associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

If you have an idea, we want to hear it! If you have questions or would like to initiate a proposal, send an
abstract of your ideas and author/editor bio(s) to editorial (at) palgravedigitalinequalities (dot) org

Outstanding Academic Title

Honoured to know that the book “Blockchain and Web 3.0. Social, Economic and Technological Challenges” (Routledge, 2020) I edited with Giuseppe Destefanis has been awarded as “Outstanding Academic Title”

This prestigious list reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community. The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year. Choice editors base their selections on the reviewer’s evaluation of the work, the editor’s knowledge of the field, and the reviewer’s record.

Blockchain is no longer just about bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general. Instead, it can be seen as a disruptive, revolutionary technology which will have major impacts on multiple aspects of our lives. The revolutionary power of such technology compares with the revolution sparked by the World Wide Web and the Internet in general. Just as the Internet is a means of sharing information, so blockchain technologies can be seen as a way to introduce the next level: sharing value.

Blockchain and Web 3.0 fills the gap in our understanding of blockchain technologies by hosting a discussion of the new technologies in a variety of disciplinary settings. Indeed, this volume explains how such technologies are disruptive and comparatively examines the social, economic, technological and legal consequences of these disruptions. Such a comparative perspective has previously been underemphasized in the debate about blockchain, which has subsequently led to weaknesses in our understanding of decentralized technologies.

Digital inequalities in time of pandemic: COVID-19 exposure risk profiles and new forms of vulnerability

Robinson, L., Schulz, J., Khilnani, A., Ono, H., Cotten, S. R., McClain, N., Levine, L., Chen, W., Huang, G., Casilli, A. A., Tubaro, P., Dodel, M., Quan-Haase, A., Ruiu, M. L., Ragnedda, M., Aikat, D., & Tolentino, N. (2020). Digital inequalities in time of pandemic: COVID-19 exposure risk profiles and new forms of vulnerabilityFirst Monday25(7).

Abstract In this article, we argue that new kinds of risk are emerging with the COVID-19 virus, and that these risks are unequally distributed. As we expose to view, digital inequalities and social inequalities are rendering certain subgroups significantly more vulnerable to exposure to COVID-19. Vulnerable populations bearing disproportionate risks include the social isolated, older adults, penal system subjects, digitally disadvantaged students, gig workers, and last-mile workers. Therefore, we map out the intersection between COVID-19 risk factors and digital inequalities on each of these populations in order to examine how the digitally resourced have additional tools to mitigate some of the risks associated with the pandemic. We shed light on how the ongoing pandemic is deepening key axes of social differentiation, which were previously occluded from view. These newly manifested forms of social differentiation can be conceived along several related dimensions. At their most general and abstract, these risks have to do with the capacity individuals have to control the risk of pathogen exposure. In order to fully manage exposure risk, individuals must control their physical environment to the greatest extent possible in order to prevent contact with potentially compromised physical spaces. In addition, they must control their social interactional environment to the greatest extent possible in order to minimize their contacts with potentially infected individuals. All else equal, those individuals who exercise more control over their exposure risk — on the basis of their control over their physical and social interactional environments — stand a better chance of staying healthy than those individuals who cannot manage exposure risk. Individuals therefore vary in terms of what we call their COVID-19 exposure risk profile (CERPs). CERPs hinge on preexisting forms of social differentiation such as socioeconomic status, as individuals with more economic resources at their disposal can better insulate themselves from exposure risk. Alongside socioeconomic status, one of the key forms of social differentiation connected with CERPs is digital (dis)advantage. Ceteris paribus, individuals who can more effectively digitize key parts of their lives enjoy better CERPs than individuals who cannot digitize these life realms. Therefore we believe that digital inequalities are directly and increasingly related to both life-or-death exposure to COVID-19, as well as excess deaths attributable to the larger conditions generated by the pandemic.

Read the full article here