Title: Revisiting the digital divide: from social to digital inequalities.
Project Description: Defined as social and economic stratification in the access to- and use of- the internet, the digital divide is inevitably tied to the concept of social inequality. Systems of structured inequality exist in most human societies. Since more aspects of social life are migrating and expanding online, systems of structured inequality are being reproduced in the digital sphere: citizens without access to the internet (in terms of lack of equipment and infrastructural access) are likely to be disadvantaged when compared with their more networked neighbours. The project being advertised will incorporate both theoretical ideas and empirical analyses in order to bring fresh perspectives to debates around the forms of digital and social inequality and sketch a concept of inequalities in the digital sphere: the successful candidate will develop innovative ways through which to study digitally enabled networked societies. The connections between digital and traditional inequalities will be explored in order to better understand if the former perpetuates the latter, and how the latter informs the former. Indeed, despite the gradual closing of the digital gap over the past decade, significant differences remain in relation to the ways we use the internet, levels of digital literacy, issues of social capital and the development of ICT skills. All these factors influence how we use and experience the digital technologies around us and the benefits we derive from them.
The successful researcher will use a case study approach to explore the ways in which place, experience and power work together to perpetuate or challenge digital and social inequalities and to propose a more nuanced understanding of how social and digital inequalities are related. The successful researcher will investigate how our particular social, cultural, economic and knowledge backgrounds influence the modalities through which we use ICTs.
We are open to applications bringing a variety of interpretations and suggesting different case study examples to this broad topic. Candidates should have an interest in equality issues and digital technologies.
This project will be suitable for candidates with an MA or MFA in mass communication, media and sociology. Researcher who can bridge two or more of the above disciplines will be particularly well placed to apply for this doctoral studentship.
Application deadline: 18 March 2016
The digital divide: from social to digital inequalities (RDF16/MED/RAGNEDDA)