Theorizing Digital Divide: Call for chapter

My colleague Glenn Muschert (Miami Univ.) and I are editing a book on the topic “Theorizing Digital Divide.”

We are organizing an edited volume which will examine how theories may be useful in conceptualizing and studying digital inequalities. Contributions are invited for this edited international collection of original chapters engaging theoretical themes on digital inequalities.

Please see the attached Call for Chapter Proposals for details on the scope, timing, and mechanics of this project. Also, please feel welcome to post this call for papers widely and to forward it to interested colleagues and students. We hope to see some proposals from many of you, and for now, please feel welcome to be in contact if you have any questions for us.


Call for Chapter Proposals for an Edited Volume on

Theorizing Digital Divides

Editors: Massimo Ragnedda, Northumbria Univ. (UK)

Glenn W. Muschert, Miami Univ. (USA)

As more aspects of social life are migrating and expanding on-line, systems of structured inequalities are now well-entrenched and replicated in the digital sphere. However, the development of the theoretical aspect of digital divide studies has lagged behind the development of more empirical studies.  Traditional studies of digital divides have tended to be macro in scope, and often convey flavour of government reporting on infrastructure and electronic capacities.  Of course, there are many exceptions among scholars working in a variety of fields, however even given a variety of national and cultural perspectives from which such studies emerge, the theoretical underpinnings of such studies often proceed from a narrow range of perspectives (most commonly critical social theory perspectives, such as those in the Marxist and subsequent traditions).  While the critical schools have indeed brought great insight to the field, the narrow stretch of social theories applied to digital divides is surprising, given the diversity of theoretical developments which have developed in social theories, especially in the last half century.

In order to expand the theoretical perspectives brought to bear on social relations in digital spheres, we have invited scholars from different disciplines (e.g., Sociology, (New) Media Studies, Communications, etc.) to apply social theories of stratification, inequalities, postmodernity, etc. (broadly conceived), to develop new perspectives on the rise and persistence of digital social inequalities. In so doing, we intend to stimulate innovative ways to study digital and social inequalities in digitally-enabled networked societies. The core analysis in this edited collection will be to examine and explain the phenomena of digital divides from a broad range of theoretical perspectives. Indeed, a relatively narrow band of digital divide studies have been theoretically-based, and among these, most have been limited to critical schools in the various Marxist traditions (and their descendants). This edited volume fills this gap in the field, by bringing together a variety of statements from scholars around the word, in which social theories are central to the discussion of digital divides.

Potential contributors are invited to explore the importance of social theories in analysing digital divides and digital inequalities. Papers must be theoretical, and (while the may contain illustrative empirical evidence or examples) should strongly feature the conceptual potential of theorizing digital divides in novel and intriguing ways. Submissions are welcome from scholars at all stages of their careers, and from various relevant disciplines (sociology, communications, media studies, etc.). While certainly well-established theoretical traditions are welcome (as in those expressing the vision of foundational social theorists), we also welcome exploration into areas which are perhaps less dominant or newer.

Possible perspectives for chapters include, but are certainly not limited, to the following traditions/perspectives:

  • Veblen: the role of leisure and consumption in digital inequalities.
  • Post-Colonialism: liberation (Fanon), Orientalism (Said), Spivak (the subaltern).
  • DeBord: digital inequalities in the age of spectacle.
  • Habermas: communication, the public sphere, and digital inequalities.
  • Durkheim: the role of solidarity, collective conscience, and anomie.
  • Surveillance studies: panoptic (and other) social sorting dynamics in the digital age.
  • Bauman: liquidity and digital divide.
  • Beck: digital divides and the society of risk.
  • Hochshild: emotional labor and digital divides.
  • Feminist theories: patriarchy, intersectionality, the cyborg, feminist epistemology.
  • Postmodernisms: hyper-reality, the end of metanarratives, weak thought.
  • Post-structural theory: deconstruction, queer theory.
  • Freud: psychoanalysis of digital inequalities.
  • Pragmatism: self, identity, symbolic interaction, and the digital divide.
  • Marxist: the relevance of capital, class struggle, alienation, etc. in digital divides.
  • Marxist traditions: Frankfurt school, Marxist feminism, Gramsci (hegemony).
  • Foucault: discipline, control, knowledge and digital distinction.
  • Bourdieu: social capital and digital inequalities, the habitus.

Submissions should be in the form of extended abstracts of around 300 words in MS Word, sent as an email attachment to Massimo Ragnedda ( and Glenn Muschert (

The deadline for abstract submissions is 15 March 2015.

Abstracts will be judged on criteria of relevance and originality of topic. Notification of initially-approved abstracts will be announced in mid-April, after which contributors will be asked to move forward to the peer-review submission phase. We will submit the book proposal to Routledge.

Contributions of 6000 words (maximum including abstract, footnotes, tables/figures with captions, references, and appendices, if any) will be due 1 December 2015. All submissions must adhere to APA (6th edition). Chapters will be subject to double-blind peer review, and to encourage coherence in the special section, all contributors will be requested to act as a peer reviewer for at least one other article.

Also, please feel welcome to post this call for papers widely and to forward it to interested colleagues and students. We hope to see some proposals from many of you, and for now, please feel welcome to be in contact if you have any questions for us.

With best regards,

Massimo Ragnedda and Glenn Muschert


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