The Third Digital Divide A Weberian Approach to Digital Inequalities

The word clouds of “The Third Digital Divide. A Weberian approach to Digital Inequalities”. WordItOut-word-cloud-1940708.png

The 6Cs (six capitals). The digital capital

ecreaECREA Conference, Prague, 9-12 November 2016.

Abstract: Based on an extensive literature review on the existing influences between capital(s) and digital access, this paper will highlight the reciprocal influences between five capitals and digital capital, proposing a new theoretical approach in analysing digital inequalities. Social (Bourdieu 1986; Coleman 1990; Putnam 1995), economic (Bourdieu 1986), personal (Becker 1996), political (Seyd and Whitely 1997), and cultural capitals (Bourdieu 1986) influence the rise of digital capital which, in turn, not only generate a digital divide between people who can and cannot access the Internet (first level of digital divide), but also inequalities in terms of benefits they can gain on-line (second level of digital divide). Moreover, these 6C tend to create the third level of digital divide, seen as the returning social benefits of using the Internet.

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The third Digital Divide. A Weberian approach to digital inequalities

third-digital-divide Coming soon. The third Digital Divide. A Weberian approach to digital inequalities, Routledge, 2017

Drawing on the thought of Max Weber, in particular his theory of stratification, this book engages with the question of whether the digital divide simply extends traditional forms of inequality, or whether it also includes new forms of social exclusion, or perhaps manifests counter-trends that alleviate traditional inequalities whilst constituting new modalities of inequality. With attention to the manner in which social stratification in the digital age is reproduced and transformed online, the author develops an account of stratification as it exists in the digital sphere, advancing the position that, just as in the social sphere, inequalities in the online world go beyond the economic elements of inequality. As such, study of the digital divide should focus not simply on class dynamics or economic matters, but cultural aspects – such as status or prestige – and political aspects – such as group affiliations. Read the rest of this entry »

Demystifying Digital Divide and Digital Leisure.

leisureMassimo Ragnedda and Bruce Mutsvairo (2016), Demystifying Digital Divide and Digital Leisure. Chapter in David McGillivray, Gayle McPherson, Sandro Carnicelli (eds) Digital Leisure Cultures: Critical Perspectives, Routledge, pp. 107-119.

Abstract: This chapter investigates the contribution of the digital divide towards the consumption of leisure among users. In analysing the entertainment and leisure dimensions of the Internet, the chapter draws on the literature exploring digital divide, but also on concepts such as network theory and liquidity. With the experience of leisure consumption in a postmodern society increasingly important as a distinctive form of identity, we question the extent to which digital inequalities, based on skills, income and education, influence leisure consumption online.

From Social to Digital Inequalities

13435300_10208296440186711_365484049517279225_nFrom Social to Digital Inequalities, paper presented at Intercom Comunicação, San Paulo, Brazil (18 June 2016).

Digital communication plays a key role in the process of the structuring of contemporary society, and may result in the emergence of new forms of social exclusion linked to digital inequalities. The digital divide is a form of social and digital exclusion which depends not only on technological, demographic and geographical factors, but also on economic, cultural and social circumstances associated with social structure. All these factors influence not only the use of the Internet, but also its cultural evolution and structure. The digital divide is a “moving target” that changes over time due to the diffusion of technological innovation; it therefore needs to be constantly redefined using more appropriate operational indicators. The Internet is a space that provides power for the growth of knowledge as a common good. The network structure is independent of the borders of the various states and has the potential to connect all the inhabitants of the earth, reducing disparities of all kinds. However, despite these unique qualities, many obstacles prevent their full integration. Diversified and unequal access to the Internet can create new forms of social segregation, which in turn generate communities based on weak ties (Ancu and Cozna, 2009; Baumgartner and Morris, 2010; Kraut et al., 1998; Withe, 2010, 2010; Gladwell, 2010; Fenton and Barassi, 2011). Inclusion and exclusion from the network society are based on the capabilities of technological devices (hardware and software), length and amount of Internet use, resources (mostly intangible) conveyed by the networks, digital skills, and online activities (DiMaggio et al., 2004; Hargittai and Hinnant, 2008; Howard et al., 2001; Van Dijk and Van Deursen, 2014). Van Dijk (2005: 166-177) identifies participation and social inclusion as the most important factors in combatting digital inequalities. In a network society where the new media are acquiring an increasingly important role in the acquisition of benefits and the competition between individuals, conventional electronic media and other traditional forms of communication will become less and less sufficient to allow full participation in each of these areas, while the use of the Internet will become ever more vital.

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Theorizing Digital Divides and Inequalities.


Massimo Ragnedda and Glenn W. Muschert, Theorizing Digital Divides and Inequalities, in  an Servaes, Toks Oyedemi (eds) Social Inequalities, Media and Communication: A Global perspective, 2016, Lexington Books

Inequalities that exist in the digital sphere are certainly entangled with inequalities present in the “social sphere”. The aim of this chapter is to sketch a concept of stratification and inequalities in the digital sphere, the goal of which is 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. 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.

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6 fully-funded studentships available at Northumbria University

northumbria-logoTitle: 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.

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