Seminal sociologist Max Weber rarely wrote about media dynamics; however, the Weberian perspective offers rich potential for the analysis of various media issues, including the study of digital divides. In particular, the contribution of a Weberian school of thought to the field is the addition of noneconomic and nontechnical concerns to the study of digital inequalities, most notably the importance of status/prestige, legitimacy, group affiliations, life chances, and political relations as areas of focus.
Facets of social life are migrating and expanding on-line, including the functioning of key social institutions; yet digital participation (like all other aspects of social life) remains unequal. A Weberian perspective allows a multifaceted view of such digital divides which include the interplay of social class (lifestyle and culture), social status (prestige and market influence), and power (political impact). Indeed, these key distinctions Weber identified about inequality are still significant and important in the digital age, although this perspective is in its nascent stage. This Special Section focuses precisely on the potential of applying Max Weber’s thought to digital divide studies.
This Special Section of the International Journal of Communication presents a fresh look at insights garnered in studies of digital inequality via the application of Weberian thought. It invites the reader to consider the expanding conceptualization of inequalities in digital spheres, one which moves beyond the economic and technical dimensions.
Max Weber and Digital Divide Studies—guest-edited by Massimo Ragnedda and Glenn W. Muschert—is a Special Section of IJoC. It presents four theoretical essays (though some are backed with empirical analyses) focusing on multiple facets of Weber’s theory of stratification as applied to the digital sphere. Thus, the articles in this collection examine issues of social status, class relations, life chances, and political participation.
- Dimitar Blagoev, “St. Kliment Ohridski,” University of Sofia, Bulgaria
- Grant Blank, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK
- Darja Groselj, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK
- Glenn W. Muschert, Miami University, USA
- Massimo Ragnedda, Northumbria University, UK
- Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK
- Bridgette Wessels, University of Sheffield, UK
Read this Special Section that just published August 14, 2015 at http://ijoc.org.