Visiting Professor at the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg

It was a big honour and pleasure to be invited to the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg to teach at the Master in Digital Communication Leadership. This Master is an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) which approaches the vast and recent field of digital communication from an interdisciplinary and international point of view, bringing together advanced academic discussion with practical knowledge and skills.

It is developed in three innovative tracks, organised by four European universities in Austria, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. The students have the opportunity to study in two different universities (depending on the chosen track) and spend a research stay at one of the Academic Partners, or an internship at one of the Internship Partners.

It was a very intense but satisfying 2 full on days of teaching, interacting, knowledge-sharing with exceptional students from all over the world.

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Opening Talk at the III Encuentro de la Cátedra de Brecha Digital Generacional, University of Alicante

It was a big honour to be invited to open a two-day workshop (21st and 22nd of September 2022) with academics and policymakers at the University of Alicante. The event was organized by la Cátedra de Brecha Digital Generacional (fruits of the collaboration between the University and the Generalitat Valenciana).

In my talk, titled “The self-reinforcing effect of digital and social exclusion”, I first emphasised the idea of the self-reinforcing effect of digital and social exclusion, by highlighting 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.

Based on data from recent research I underlined how 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. Here you can read more about our research

I have also further emphasized how socially vulnerable people have more difficulties in using digital technologies and gaining benefits from them, leading to further marginalisation of their position and deepening of inequalities.

Finally, I underlined how offline social structures and practices influence individuals’ ability to use digital technologies as an empowering tool of social inclusion.

How offline backgrounds interact with digital capital

Ragnedda, M., Ruiu, ML., Addeo, F., (2022), How offline backgrounds interact with digital capital, New Media and Society.

Abstract: This article investigates the interaction between digital capital and some offline components (economic, cultural, political, social and personal) that represent the background against which we access and use the Internet. Based on a stratified sample of the UK population (868), six indexes (one for each component) were generated through factor analysis and univariate analysis. We summarised them into a unique model by performing a multiple linear regression to evaluate the role-played by offline components in the development/reinforcement of digital capital. The interaction between these new indexes and the digital capital index shows that, with the exception of the political component, all offline backgrounds positively contribute to digital capital. Moreover, the multiple regression analysis shows that the economic and social components have the strongest influence on digital capital.

Introduction

The role-played by socio-cultural and economic backgrounds in influencing digital inequalities has attracted the attention of scholars since the very beginning of Internet studies (DiMaggio et al., 2001). Researchers have increasingly explored the relationship between digital and social inequalities by showing some interdependencies between the pre-existing backgrounds of individuals and their related degree of digital skills and experience in using the Internet (Blank and Groselj, 2015Van Deursen et al., 2015). The main contribution of this article is to conceptualise and measure how various components of individuals’ everyday lives (economic, social, cultural, personal and political components: referred to as the 5Cs from now on) contribute to the creation of digital capital. Our research builds on previous studies that have shown how individual backgrounds and the context in which people grow up influence how individuals approach (Gui and Argentin, 2011), use (Van Deursen and Van Dijk, 2014) and engage (Robinson, 2009) with digital technologies. More specifically, our research aims to analyse to what extent individual backgrounds influence the increase of digital capital, by following the path of other studies that underlined a connection between the cultural, social and economic backgrounds of users, and their Internet access and use (Helsper, 2012Van Deursen et al., 2014Van Deursen and Van Dijk, 2015). Adding to these studies, this work contributes to the investigation of the interaction between social (Bourdieu, 1985Coleman, 1990Putnam, 1995), political (Syed and Whiteley, 1997), economic (Bourdieu, 1985), personal (Becker, 1996) cultural (Bourdieu, 1985) and digital capital.

Continue reading “How offline backgrounds interact with digital capital”

Nominated by students for a teaching award 2022

I am so glad to have been nominated for the Student Led Teaching Awards 2022. This is the 10th year in this project, which shows students appreciate all that staff do for them. Each year students complete an online form and they are asked two questions (as below).

Why do you want to nominate this person?

A man with the ability to provide an entire room of students the ability to see the world as he sees it, allowing us to view the intricacies that exist within society from a lens that has been cultivated for a lifetime, yet bestowed to us in the form of lectures; in other words, this man is the best teacher that I’ve ever personally had. university can be long and tiring, but he has provided for myself, and many others a second wind, propelling us to learn in a manner that is both interesting, and more importantly fun. He has given me the opportunity to better myself, and the others around me by showing that although life may be complicated, and the future even more complicated, there is always solutions.

Tell us something specific they’ve done that has made a difference to you.

Having done a foundation year, one of the main reasons I chose to do the course I’m currently on is because of him, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for his invigorating personality, and his ability to teach.

Special Issue “Digital Inequalities in the Middle East & North Africa”

Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Guest Editors: Dr. Glenn W. Muschert, Professor of Sociology, Khalifa University, UAE, and Dr. Massimo Ragnedda, Associate Professor of Mass Communications, Northumbria University, UK

Deadline for abstracts: 19. June 2022 / Expected date of publication: August 2023

Little research has focused on digital inequalities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite the noted migration of social life into the digital sphere, the cultures and societies of the MENA region remain under-studied. This special issue intends to shed much-needed light on this topic: namely, how digital media forms, digital inequalities, and ICT use are changing social life in the MENA region. The special editors invite proposals for articles about digital inequalities in MENA.

As a whole, the special collection welcomes analysis of digital divides and changing social relations. There are few empirical studies on this topic from the MENA region, and the issue will be the first to examine the changes brought by new technologies in the lives of those living in the region. The special editors welcome contributions that clarify hopes and impediments to digital society in MENA. Articles should advance scholarly knowledge concerning the effect of digital technologies on the region’s broader social contexts. Welcome topics include digital effects on economic dynamics, technical issues, cultural aspects, historical legacies, embedded conflicts, digital literacy and skills, governance of digital life, social well-being, and development trajectories.

The special issue will focus on social issues or perspectives on digital inequalities in the MENA region. Each article should examine a specific social issue or perspective related to the digital divides in the MENA region and related social issues. The primary criterion for acceptance will be the scholarly promise and relevance of the topic.  Each contribution must include empirical analysis and be linked theoretically to broader debates current in sociology or related social science fields. Contributors are encouraged to offer forward-looking perspectives in suggestions for social challenges, including how the study of MENA social issues or regional perspectives can help inform research on digital inequalities worldwide.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Can the MENA region’s economic and social development leapfrog by adopting mobile technologies?
  • What possibilities exist to drive digital inclusion in MENA while reducing aspects of digital inequalities?
  • What are the implications of social media and other forms of digital participation for social life in MENA?
  • How demographic, cultural, and socio-economic factors influence digital divides in MENA, including:
    • Access to ICTs (first level of digital divide)
    • Effective use of ICTs (second level of digital divide), and
    • The benefits of ICT use (third level of digital divide)?
  • Assess the role of digital media in transforming health care practices and outcomes in the MENA region.
  • Identify the innovative digital methods used in the region to provide access, information, and utility.
  • Exploring how COVID-19 may have exacerbated digital inequalities in the MENA region
  • Are digital use patterns related to social well-being in the MENA region?
  • Explore how users, organizations, and societies are affected by regulatory frameworks.

Submit 500-word abstract & 100-word bio by 19. June 2022 to:

glenn.muschert.(at).ku.ac.ae & massimo.ragnedda(at)northumbria.ac.uk

Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by 30. June 2022 to submit full articles by 15. September 2022

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.

Continue reading “Converting Digital Capital in Five Key LifeRealms”

Conceptualizing the techno-environmental habitus

Maria Laura Ruiu, Gabriele Ruiu and Massimo Ragnedda (2021) Conceptualizes the techno-environmental habitus, First Monday, 26(11). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i11.12353

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.

Continue reading “Conceptualizing the techno-environmental habitus”

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. https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2021.02.004 (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, https://doi.org/10.1108/DPRG-01-2021-0015

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.