The Third Digital Divide A Weberian Approach to Digital Inequalities

Introduction

This book uses the theoretical framework developed by Weber to analyse the phenomena of the digital divide and digital inequalities in relation to social stratification.

The aim of this book is thus to sketch a concept of stratification and inequalities in the digital sphere, in order to clarify whether the digital divide simply extends traditional forms of inequality, or whether it also includes new forms, which might include counter-trends that alleviate traditional inequalities and/or which form new modalities of inequality. As we shall see, inequalities that exist in the digital sphere are certainly entangled with inequalities present in the social sphere.

The discussion will proceed from a theoretical perspective using Max Weber’s theory of stratification, in order to clarify how social stratification in the digital age is reproduced online. The main idea is that inequalities in the digital sphere are based on features that, just as in the social sphere, go beyond the economic aspects of inequality. To understand digital inequalities, the discussion should not focus only on class dynamics (economic aspects), but also status/prestige (cultural aspects) and group affiliations (political aspects). As in “real life”, social stratification in the digital sphere is the result of this complex interplay of three factors. These key distinctions Weber identified about social inequality are still significant in a digital age.

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Exclusão digital: como é estar do lado errado da divisão digital. (Digital exclusion: be on the wrong side of the digital divide)

cover_issue_9410_pt_brMassimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu (2016), Exclusão digital: como é estar do lado errado da divisão digital (Digital exclusion: be on the wrong side of the digital divide), Revista Online de Comunicação, Linguagem e Mídias, 10(20): 90-113.

Abstract: The development of the information society has highlighted the existence of obstacles preventing
certain social groups from accessing and properly using technologies, leading to new forms of exclusion from the job market, governmental institutions, leisure and academic activities. However, reducing the gap between those who connect and those who do not by offering cheaper and faster physical access does not automatically translate into closing the gap in terms of digital inequalities. The technological determinist position, which sees access to technology as being able to solve social problems, including problems of social inequality, democracy, freedom, social relationships and sense of community, is misleading. In fact, several dimensions and patterns can generate and reinforce inequalities, further increasing the distances between citizens/users. The term “digital divide”, often used as a binary expression, is confusing, because it suggests a one- dimensional gap, mainly based on the economic factor – possession of technologies –, while there are gaps in multiple dimensions that go beyond the simple access to or possession of resources. These dimensions create digital inequalities that, if not mirrored, can produce and reinforce social inequalities. The concepts of social and digital stratification are intimately intertwined

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Empowering local communities through collective grassroots actions: The case of “No Al Progetto Eleonora” in the Arborea District (OR, Sardinia)

Maria Lgcrvaura Ruiu & Massimo Ragnedda (2017) Empowering local communities
Abstract. This article explores both how local social committees may contribute toward generating collective actions, leading local communities to empower their environment, and how new information communication technologies (ICTs) may alter the collective action. It focuses on a case study, represented by the “No al Progetto Eleonora” local committee that operates in the Arborea district of Oristano, in Sardinia, Italy. Here, the community has become progressively cohesive in the face of an external environmental threat represented by the proposal for a drilling project. In this context, the role played by the Internet has been marginal in promoting community cohesion, even if it has indirectly enhanced it. In other words, the Internet played a marginal role in promoting the protest and reinforcing community cohesion, but it played a primary role in attracting external solidarity and support, thus indirectly reinforcing the sense of community against an external threat.

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