Massimo Ragnedda (2018), Tackling Digital Exclusion Counter: Social Inequalities Through Digital Inclusion in G. Muschert et al (eds) Global Agenda for Social Justice, Polity Press, pp 151-157.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have granted many privileges to their users. At the same time, they have given rise to new and complex forms of exclusion affecting those already marginalized and disempowered. The development of the information society has highlighted the existence of obstacles preventing certain social groups from accessing and properly using technologies. This limited access and use of ICTs is defined as the “digital divide.” Those who are digitally included can more easily access services that impact positively on their health, occupation, education, and housing. Therefore, an exclusion from, or even partial access to, the digital realm has become a significant source of social inequality. However, accessing the internet, alone, is simply not enough to be digitally included. Indeed, it is also necessary to have the capacity to use, create, successfully navigate, and understand online content. These are the skills necessary to be a digitally literate individual once the technology is available. Digital literacy, therefore, indicates the ability to utilize digital infrastructure and not simply to access it. Digital inclusion, then, refers to the policies that will bridge the digital divide and support digital literacy. It tackles social inequalities by providing solutions for socially disadvantaged citizens to easily access and effectively use ICTs to improve their quality of life. This chapter will explain strategies that public, private, and voluntary sectors should follow to reduce digital exclusion and promote digital and social equity. These strategies are intended to ensure that people who are disadvantaged in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, location (urban or rural), or disability can access and enjoy the benefits of the information society. Digital inclusion initiatives are designed to give citizens the right access, skills, trust, and motivation to confidently go online. Digital inclusion projects aim to enhance the capacity to use ICTs in ways that promote engagement and well-being and, therefore, to counter social inequalities.