This research draws on qualitative interviews with primarily lower socioeconomic status (SES) public library internet users to illuminate their perceptions of economic benefits afforded by the internet. This powerful evidence challenges utopian new technological theories. The results from this study allow for the comparison of perspectives from Millennials, Generation Xers, Boomers, and the Silent generation. These results suggest a disconnect between the cultural mythology around the internet as an all-powerful tool and the lived experiences of lower SES respondents. Lower SES participants primarily use the internet to train and educate themselves in areas where they would like to work in the process of applying for jobs using the internet. Participants recognized marginal benefits such as socialization and less burdensome job application processes. However, they struggled to identify significant job-related benefits when comparing applying for jobs online as opposed to applying for jobs in person. With the exception of millennials, all generational groups believed in the economic promise of the internet to make their lives easier given enough time. Millennials, however, challenged the techno-utopianism expressed by other generations. Only millennials recognized the realities of digital inequalities that make techno-utopian outcomes unattainable given broader economic realities for low-SES individuals.
Park, D.J. (2019), "Poverty and the Shadow of Utopian Internet Theory: Insights from Interviews with Unemployed Internet Users Living Below the Poverty Line", Schulz, J., Robinson, L., Khilnani, A., Baldwin, J., Pait, H., Williams, A.A., Davis, J. and Ignatow, G. (Ed.) Mediated Millennials (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 175-197. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020190000019010
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