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Digital footprints: an emerging dimension of digital inequality

Marina Micheli (Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ), University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Christoph Lutz (Nordic Centre for Internet and Society, Department of Communication and Culture, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Moritz Büchi (Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ), University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 13 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose

This conceptual contribution is based on the observation that digital inequalities literature has not sufficiently considered digital footprints as an important social differentiator. The purpose of the paper is to inspire current digital inequality frameworks to include this new dimension.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature on digital inequalities is combined with research on privacy, big data and algorithms. The focus on current findings from an interdisciplinary point of view allows for a synthesis of different perspectives and conceptual development of digital footprints as a new dimension of digital inequality.

Findings

Digital footprints originate from active content creation, passive participation and platform-generated data. The literature review shows how different social groups may experience systematic advantages or disadvantages based on their digital footprints. A special emphasis should be on those at the margins, for example, users of low socioeconomic background.

Originality/value

By combining largely independent research fields, the contribution opens new avenues for studying digital inequalities, including innovative methodologies to do so.

Keywords

Citation

Micheli, M., Lutz, C. and Büchi, M. (2018), "Digital footprints: an emerging dimension of digital inequality", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 242-251. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-02-2018-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited