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Reconsidering the digital divide: an analytical framework from access to appropriation

Yvonne Ai-Chi Loh (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore)
Arul Chib (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 9 March 2021

Issue publication date: 28 March 2022

1203

Abstract

Purpose

This paper presents a framework to measure the digital divide by considering a more comprehensive index of information and communication technology (ICT) predictors. The authors also address the conceptual and methodological problems in the digital divide field, given that its focus has been shifted from technological access to higher-order divides over the years. The proposed framework is hypothesized and tested in the context of unemployed and underemployed residents in Singapore.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a quantitative survey, 302 unemployed and underemployed workers were asked what ICT “access”, “usage” and “appropriation” meant to them. Factor analyses were deployed to identify the underlying, granular dimensions of ICT access, usage and appropriation.

Findings

The factor analyses revealed an interesting breakdown of the main factors of ICT access, usage and appropriation. The authors found that one's purpose for which technology is accessed, used and appropriated determines how each of the levels of ICT assets is defined. Thus, the authors propose new operational definitions for ICT access, usage and appropriation based on the analyses.

Originality/value

This study aims to provide a more robust measure of the digital divide from access, capabilities to outcomes. The authors hope that this framework, besides complementing current digital divide models, can be applied to different types of participants.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their deepest appreciation to the anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped improve and clarify this manuscript. The authors are also grateful to Gabrielle Ibasco and Mingwei Ang, for their help in preparing the manuscript. This work was supported by Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, through the 3k fund for graduate students research.

Citation

Loh, Y.A.-C. and Chib, A. (2022), "Reconsidering the digital divide: an analytical framework from access to appropriation", Information Technology & People, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 647-676. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-09-2019-0505

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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