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The digital divide: a literature review and some directions for future research in light of COVID-19

Najeh Aissaoui (Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics and Management of Sfax, University of Sfax, Sfax, Tunisia)

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication

ISSN: 2514-9342

Article publication date: 4 February 2021

Issue publication date: 5 December 2022




Coronavirus (COVID-19) has exposed the digital divide (DD) like never before and has made it a hot topic of actuality. In this paper, a state of the art of research studies that dealt with the three levels of the digital divide and highlight its shortcomings in light of COVID-19 are presented.


An integrative literature review was conducted, summarizing the rich literature on the digital divide by presenting its key concepts and findings. This study then provides suggestions for future research in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


It can be concluded that the digital divide is insufficiently exposed and examined by researchers. In fact, in recent years, very few research studies have focused on the first-level divide. Moreover, much of the literature has analyzed the second digital divide (in terms of e-skills) in the strict sense and at the national level. This review also shows that the existing studies on the third level-digital divide deal only with the individual results of using the Internet. Finally, future research on the three-level digital divide should study more digital inequality related to emerging technologies is proposed.

Research limitations/implications

This paper draws up a state of art, which has important theoretical and practical implications in the effectiveness of full transformation to digitalization.


The present study contributes to digital inequality research by summarizing key concepts and findings from the literature of the three levels of the digital divide. It highlights the unexplored research topics on some dimensions of DD which were behind the digital transformation failure in many countries and provides insights on future research directions in light of COVID-19.



Aissaoui, N. (2022), "The digital divide: a literature review and some directions for future research in light of COVID-19", Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. 71 No. 8/9, pp. 686-708.



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