Special Issue “Digital Inequalities in the Middle East & North Africa”

Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Guest Editors: Dr. Glenn W. Muschert, Professor of Sociology, Khalifa University, UAE, and Dr. Massimo Ragnedda, Associate Professor of Mass Communications, Northumbria University, UK

Deadline for abstracts: 19. June 2022 / Expected date of publication: August 2023

Little research has focused on digital inequalities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite the noted migration of social life into the digital sphere, the cultures and societies of the MENA region remain under-studied. This special issue intends to shed much-needed light on this topic: namely, how digital media forms, digital inequalities, and ICT use are changing social life in the MENA region. The special editors invite proposals for articles about digital inequalities in MENA.

As a whole, the special collection welcomes analysis of digital divides and changing social relations. There are few empirical studies on this topic from the MENA region, and the issue will be the first to examine the changes brought by new technologies in the lives of those living in the region. The special editors welcome contributions that clarify hopes and impediments to digital society in MENA. Articles should advance scholarly knowledge concerning the effect of digital technologies on the region’s broader social contexts. Welcome topics include digital effects on economic dynamics, technical issues, cultural aspects, historical legacies, embedded conflicts, digital literacy and skills, governance of digital life, social well-being, and development trajectories.

The special issue will focus on social issues or perspectives on digital inequalities in the MENA region. Each article should examine a specific social issue or perspective related to the digital divides in the MENA region and related social issues. The primary criterion for acceptance will be the scholarly promise and relevance of the topic.  Each contribution must include empirical analysis and be linked theoretically to broader debates current in sociology or related social science fields. Contributors are encouraged to offer forward-looking perspectives in suggestions for social challenges, including how the study of MENA social issues or regional perspectives can help inform research on digital inequalities worldwide.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Can the MENA region’s economic and social development leapfrog by adopting mobile technologies?
  • What possibilities exist to drive digital inclusion in MENA while reducing aspects of digital inequalities?
  • What are the implications of social media and other forms of digital participation for social life in MENA?
  • How demographic, cultural, and socio-economic factors influence digital divides in MENA, including:
    • Access to ICTs (first level of digital divide)
    • Effective use of ICTs (second level of digital divide), and
    • The benefits of ICT use (third level of digital divide)?
  • Assess the role of digital media in transforming health care practices and outcomes in the MENA region.
  • Identify the innovative digital methods used in the region to provide access, information, and utility.
  • Exploring how COVID-19 may have exacerbated digital inequalities in the MENA region
  • Are digital use patterns related to social well-being in the MENA region?
  • Explore how users, organizations, and societies are affected by regulatory frameworks.

Submit 500-word abstract & 100-word bio by 19. June 2022 to:

glenn.muschert.(at).ku.ac.ae & massimo.ragnedda(at)northumbria.ac.uk

Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by 30. June 2022 to submit full articles by 15. September 2022

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