At the IAMCR 2018 conference (Oregon, 20-24 June 2018), I’ll be chairing several panels and I’ll be presenting a paper titled Digital stratification: Class, status group and parties in the age of the Internet. This paper takes the Weberian social stratification model as a platform to examine digital inequalities, by explaining how social stratification is associated with different digital skills and practices, and tend to produce forms of inequality in the digital realm. This paper attempts to explain how and why the process of social stratification is relevant and useful to the study of digital inequalities. The aim is to develop an approach to digital inequality that acknowledges the process of stratification in a digital-enabled society. Digital inequalities are analysed not as separate forms of inequalities, but in relation to the social inequalities that exist in the offline world. Digital inequalities are embedded in the cultural, social and political context in which they emerge and cannot be disconnected from the social inequalities. Digital inequalities are, as the social inequalities, influenced by the Weberian triadic relationship at the base of the process of social stratification, namely class, social status and power. More specifically, the individuals’ economic position in society (class), the level of prestige individuals have (status group) and their influence on the decision-making process (power) effect the digital divide.
The IAMCR Digital Divide Working Group will run partial elections for a co-vice chair position during its business meeting during the IAMCR2018 in Oregon.
I have been serving as co-vice chair on an interim basis since IAMCR2017 conference and I am now seeking to formalise that position.
Call for Chapters.
Blockchain and Web 3.0: Social, economic, and technological challenges
Editors have been working with Emily Briggs (Commissioning Editor for Sociology, Routledge) to prepare this proposal.
Massimo Ragnedda, Northumbria University at Newcastle.
Giuseppe Destefanis, School of Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire.
Deadline for abstracts: 10 April 2018
Notification of acceptance: 20 April 2018
Submission Date: 20 September 2018
Blockchain is no longer just about bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general, but it can be seen as a disruptive and revolutionary technology, which will have major impacts on multiple aspects of our lives. The revolutionary power of such technology can be compared with the revolution sparked by the world wide web and the Internet in general. As the Internet can be seen as a mean for sharing information, so blockchain technologies can be seen as a way to introduce the next level: blockchain allows the possibility of sharing value. This book seeks to underline the risks and opportunities offered by the advent of blockchain technologies and the rise of the web 3.0. Given the nature, the implications and consequences of this new technology, this book will proceed from an interdisciplinary perspective. The core analysis in the book is explaining how such technologies are disruptive and, further, to explain the concrete consequences of these disruptions, in terms of social, economic and technological consequences. We anticipate that the comparative examination of these features will be helpful to clarify the dynamics and consequences of the blockchain technologies in a variety of disciplines settings. Thus, the volume integrates a number of chapters examining disparate settings around the world, all unified around their focus on the phenomenon of blockchain in comparative and interdisciplinary perspective.
Continue reading “Call for Chapters. Blockchain and Web 3.0: Social, economic, and technological challenges”
Bruce Mutsvairo and Massimo Ragnedda (2017) Emerging political narratives on Malawian digital spaces, Communicatio, South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, Volume 43, Issue 2, page 147-167.
Social media platforms are being considered new podiums for political transformation as political dictatorships supposedly convert to overnight democracies, and many more people are not only able to gain access to information, but also gather and disseminate news from their own perspective. When looking at the situation in several sub-Saharan African countries, it becomes clear there are various challenges restricting social media and its palpable yet considerably constrained ability to influence political and social changes. Access to the internet, or lack thereof, is a recognised social stratification causing a “digital divide” thanks to existing inequalities within African and several other societies throughout the world. This article reports on a study that analysed a popular Facebook page in Malawi using a discursive online ethnographic examination of interactions among social media participants seeking to determine the level of activism and democratic participation taking shape on the Malawian digital space. The study also examined potential bottlenecks restraining effective digital participation in Malawi. The article argues that while social media’s potential to transform societies is palpable, keeping up with the pace of transformation is no easy task for both digital and non-digital citizens. The study demonstrated social media’s potential but also highlighted the problems facing online activists in Malawi, including chief among them digital illiteracy. Therefore, the digital sphere is not a political podium for everyone in Malawi as shown by the analysis of digital narratives emerging from the country’s online environment, which opens its doors to only a tiny fraction of the population.
The IAMCR’s Digital Divide Working Group invites submissions for its open sessions at the IAMCR 2018 Conference to be held from 20-24 June, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon, USA. The deadline to submit abstracts is 23:59 GMT on 31 January 2018. Proposals for consideration by IAMCR’s Digital Divide Working Group must be submitted via the Open Conference System at https://iamcr-ocs.org
The overarching conference theme in 2018 is Reimagining Sustainability: Communication and Media Research in a Changing World. The theme is centered around the notion of sustainability, which is defined by the United Nations as harmonizing three core elements, environmental protection, social inclusion, and economic growth, so as to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The theme seeks to explore how sustainability is affected by the environment, as well as by human activities (social, economic and political ones) and current lifestyles. It also attempts to stimulate a discussion about the ways media can contribute to sustainable development in the societies, both by drawing public attention to the problem of sustainability and by promoting the values of social inclusion, openness and transparency in the modern world.
Massimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu (2017) Social capital and the three levels of digital divideIn Ragnedda M., Muschert G. eds. (2017), Theorizing Digital Divides, Routledge.
Introduction. Although the relation between the Internet and social capital has been largely investigated (Wellman, 2001; Vergeer and Pelzer, 2009; Hampton, Sessions, and Her, 2011), the nature of such relation is still unclear. The ongoing dispute is still between two opposite positions emphasized in the really early stage of Internet studies (Wellman, 2001): on the one hand, the Internet increases and improves social relationships (Lévy, 1997); on the other, it negatively affects face-to-face relationships (Stoll, 1995). A number of studies have implicitly investigated that relation by emphasizing the role of the Internet in promoting both new democratic, participatory and open spaces (Sproull and Kiesler, 1991; Kapor, 1993), and collective action (Frantzich, 1999; Diani, 2000). This enthusiastic attitude, which we can define as a “techno-evangelist” approach, sees the Internet as a place of freedom in which people (with similar and different perspectives) meet up for “building” something together. According to this approach, the virtual space gives to users a “power capital”, represented by freedom of choices and democratic spaces of discussion. In these virtual spaces, citizens have the power to decide and mobilize people and resources towards a common objective. By contrast, a “techno-skeptic” approach sees the other side of the coin, in which Internet users increase their activity online while decreasing and weakening their social interactions and civil participation offline (Kraut et al., 1998; Gladwell, 2010; Fenton and Barassi, 2011). More specifically, earlier studies show how online activities may also enhance and increase social, human and economic capital (Hargittai and Hinnant, 2008; Hassani, 2006). These are part of a broader body of research that has focused on how social capital may affect digital divide (Chen, 2013; DiMaggio and Cohen, 2003). Literature on this relationship mainly refers to how the digital divide may increase the inequalities in terms of possession of social capital (Pénard and Poussing, 2014; Di Maggio et al., 2004; Katz and Rice, 2003). More specifically, Kvasny (2006), Robinson (2009) and Sims (2014) adapted Bourdieu’s theory to the Internet and new media research.
Massimo Ragnedda and Glenn W. Muschert, Theorizing Digital Divides, Routledge, 2017
This volume examines and explains the phenomenon of digital divides and digital inequalities from a theoretical perspective. Indeed, with there being a limited amount of theoretical research on the digital divide so far, Theorizing Digital Divides seeks to collect and analyse different perspectives and theoretical approaches in analysing digital inequalities, and thus propose a nuanced approach to study the digital divide.
Exploring theories from diverse perspectives within the social sciences whilst presenting clear examples of how each theory is applied in digital divide research, this book will appeal to scholars and undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in sociology of inequality, digital culture, Internet studies, mass communication, social theory, sociology, and media studies.
Prof. Steve Jones (UIC Distinguished Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago): This book provides a much-needed wide-ranging theoretical foundation for research on the digital divide. While scholars and activists have done yeoman’s work identifying, studying and narrowing digital divides, Ragnedda and Muschert have put together the theoretical infrastructure with which we may understand past efforts and move forward with new ones.
Prof. Bridgette Wessels (Newcastle University): This is a welcome volume that develops our understanding of digital divides. It does so through a highly informed understanding of current theoretical knowledge of digital divides in a range of disciplinary perspectives. The authors combine to extend this knowledge in meaningful ways to address the nuances and complexities of digital divides. The theoretical developments will be extremely beneficial for scholars and students working in the area of digital divides.