Table of contents(19 chapters)
Section I: New Perspectives on Digital Stratification
This paper identifies patterns of online stratification based on cultural values and beliefs among internet users in Britain.
Using a nationally representative random sample of respondents from the 2013 Oxford Internet Survey, we identify groups of individuals who share beliefs about the internet.
Each group represents a distinctive cultural perspective on the internet: e-mersives are fully at home in and positive about the digital environment; techno-pragmatists use the internet for instrumental and work-related purposes; the cyber-savvy use all aspects of the internet, but are also primed to be aware of online risks; cyber-moderates are blasé, neither strongly positive nor negative about the internet; and adigitals harbor overwhelmingly negative beliefs and attitudes about the internet. These cultures are largely unrelated to socio-demographic factors, but appear to be shaped by experience online and general dispositions toward learning, and have major implications for patterns of internet use.
These cultures of the internet are significant because they suggest that stratification online is strongly influenced by cultural values and meaning because they influence social mobility, skill development, and digital choice.
Research into the explanations of digital inclusion has moved from investigations of skills and usage to tangible outcomes, what we label here as the third-level digital divide. There is a lack of theoretical development about which types of people are most likely to benefit. Understanding how achieving outcomes of internet use is linked to other types of (dis)advantage is one of the most complex aspects of digital inclusion research because very few reliable and valid measures have been developed. In the current study we took a first step toward creating an operational framework for measuring tangible outcomes of internet use and linking these to the inequalities identified by digital divide research.
After having proposed a classification for internet outcomes, we assessed these outcomes in a representative sample of the Dutch population.
Our overall conclusion in relation to the more general relationship between offline resources and third-level digital divides is that the internet remains more beneficial for those with higher social status, not in terms of how extensively they use the technology but in what they achieve as a result of this use for several important domains.
When information and services are offered online, the number of potential outcomes the internet has to offer increases. If individuals with higher social status are taking greater offline advantage from digital engagement than their lower status counterparts, existing offline inequalities could potentially be acerbated.
Section II: Diversities of Usage, Social Class, and Capital
What is New in the Digital Divide? Understanding Internet Use by Teenagers from Different Social Backgrounds
In recent times the relationship between social stratification and internet use has become more complex. In order to understand the new configuration of the digital divide, this paper examines the relationship between socioeconomic background and digital engagement among youths.
This study explores digital inequalities among Italian teenagers from a holistic perspective. It draws on primary data obtained with a triangulation of methods: a survey on a representative sample of 2,025 high school students and 56 semi-structured interviews with teenagers from different social classes.
The statistical models indicate that cultural capital and parents’ occupational status do not associate with broader social media use but are positively related with online information-seeking. The interpretative analysis suggests that teenagers from the upper-middle class make sense of the internet “vertically,” in affiliation with parental socialization, and are more concerned with capital enhancing activities. Instead, teenagers from less advantageous social contexts appropriate the internet “horizontally,” jointly with peers, and are mostly interested in social-networking and UGC production.
School track, along with parents’ socioeconomic status and cultural capital, influences teenagers’ internet use. Further studies could explore whether school tracking contributes to digital inequalities.
The study extends Annette Lareau’s theory of parenting styles and social reproduction, but also obtains innovative results related to digital inequalities among youth. Contrary to expectations, teenagers from less advantageous social backgrounds enrolled in vocational schools have better chances to actively participate in social media than teens from the upper-middle class in academic-oriented high schools.
From Divides to Capitals: An Exploration of Digital Divides as Expressions of Social and Cultural Capital
As the deployment of ICT and the Internet especially increases all around the world, the urgency of providing access to the “have-nots” appears at least diminished, with new issues and urgencies at the forefront. However, studies show that even when the best conditions for access are established, not everyone uses their digital devices for the same purposes, even when sharing the same goals, or when participating in the same experiences.
To explore potential explanations of these phenomena, this study examines survey data from students from a private university in Peru regarding their backgrounds and expertise with ICT. We use the twin concepts of social and cultural capital to establish a connection between their larger lifeworld experiences and their use of digital media. For this purpose, we analyze the data using polychoric correlations to explore patterns resulting from self-perception of access and skills, as well as processes related to social capital such as differentiated media use.
Findings indicate that there are differentiated processes of capital accrual using ICTs, but, at the same time, the productive and leisure dimensions of ICT use must be considered.
Section III: Emotions and Dispositions
This paper makes a significant contribution to the growing field of digital inequality research by developing an operational definition of emotional costs. To examine this understudied aspect of digital inequalities, we build on Van Dijk’s concept of mental access. We define emotional costs as anxiety toward using information and communication technologies instigated by a lack of prior technology experience and limited computer access.
We examined the influence of emotional costs on lower-income students’ technology efficacy, academic efficacy, and computer application proficiency in the context of a computing intervention. Specifically, we examined the relationship between home and school computer usage with self-perceived technology efficacy, computer application proficiency, and academic efficacy. Data from surveys of 972 students were analyzed in order to better understand the importance of technology access on our outcome variables. We also investigated the possible mediation effects of emotional costs on our outcome variables.
The results revealed that home computer usage was a determinant of students’ self-perceived technology efficacy while shared school access was not. After conducting mediation tests, the results further indicated that emotional costs mediate the effects of home computer usage on technology efficacy.
We conclude that emotional costs might help explain why access inequalities lead to skill inequalities in the context of computing interventions and offer a replicable operational definition for future studies.
The study examines how two types of trust – institutional and system trust – predict online banking intentions (OBI) as a function of generational cohort membership.
The study uses a cross-sectional survey of 559 U.S. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) members using quota sampling from three generational groups: SGI (born before 1946), older boomer (born 1946–1954), and millennial (born 1977–1992).
Results showed generational cohort differences in system and institutional trust as well as OBI. Serial mediation model results showed the model where institutional trust precedes system trust best explains the relationship between generational cohort membership and OBI.
While diverse, the sample comprised of MTurk workers and relied on self-report measures of behavioral intentions, thus limiting the generalizability of our findings.
This study introduces two levels of e-trust into the technology acceptance literature and provides a guideline for financial institutions and system designers to understand the role of trust in driving online service adoption and use for different generations.
This study explores generational differences in technology use with special focus on older adults, which is yet to be fully explored in the literature. This study differentiates between two levels of e-trust and explores the order in which both trust types mediate the relationship between generational cohort membership and OBI.
Section IV: Open WI-FI and Mobile Networks
Interethnic Ties via Mobile Communications in Homogeneous and Ethnically Mixed Cities: A Structural Diversification Approach
This study investigated the association between structural conditions and social incentives and their effect on the ethnic composition of mobile social networks. Regarding structural conditions, we examined the role of the ethnic group’s size, socioeconomic status, and heterogeneity of the city in which the business was located. Regarding social incentives, we investigated the social diversification hypothesis, which expects that residentially and socially segregated minority groups will take advantage of mobile communications to diversify their mobile communication ties with outgroup members.
Two data sets were used. The first was the aggregation of the mobile communication patterns of business customers as measured by one of Israel’s mobile phone operators in April 2010. The database included 9,099 call data records. The second was a data set of the social characteristics of 103 Israeli cities from the Israeli Bureau of Statistics. Both data sets were merged according to the place of residence of each customer.
Israeli Arab businesses in homogeneous Jewish and mixed cities operate in an environment with more structural opportunities to create outgroup ethnic ties than Arab businesses in homogeneous Arab cities. Jewish businesses in ethnically mixed cities have more outgroup mobile ties than comparable businesses in homogenous Jewish cities.
We expand previous models and suggest a structural diversification approach in which ethnic mobile social networks vary across homogeneous and ethnically mixed cities. These variations result in different social incentives as the diversification approach assumed, as well as different structural conditions, as the structural approach indicates.
This study examines whether open Wi-Fi systems in Austin, Texas, have much effect in expanding digital inclusion. These systems were hailed a decade ago as means to provide low-cost access to disadvantaged groups, but these claims were also met with some skepticism.
This study uses secondary data analysis of a survey conducted by the City of Austin to assess what groups in the city are using the Internet. It uses descriptive statistics to get a sense of who is using the systems and then logistic regression models to see which factors lead to use of open Wi-Fi.
The users of these systems may not have the resources to afford home broadband in many instances, but these systems are largely used by people with highly educated parents and comfort with computing. The Internet users are largely representative of Austin.
Simply offering Internet services via Wi-Fi is likely ineffective in expanding Internet use among disadvantaged populations.
Organizations who are interested in expanding Internet access to disadvantaged communities may want to consider how issues of social support may or may not be addressed by a project.
This study attempts to apply Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of multiple forms of capital to a quantitative study using secondary data by constructing an index from existing survey items.
Section V: Public Policy
This study examines the implementation of a community-level Sustainable Broadband Adoption Program (SBA) under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), a national public policy program meant to expand broadband deployment and adoption under the American Recovery Act of 2009, and administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The California Connects Program (CC) was administered by the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC).
This chapter focuses on one part of CC’s efforts to expand broadband adoption among the most underserved Californians through collaboration with the Great Valley Center (GVC). CC-GVC provided basic computer and Internet classes to disconnected populations with low-literacy levels, and primarily in Spanish, through community-based organizations, public schools, public libraries, small businesses, and others in the Central Valley, an 18 county rural region with a high concentration of digital destitute populations. The program worked with under-resourced local community institutions with a range of poor technology resources and that operated under variable set of social, economic, political, and institutional conditions. Through inductive, process-oriented, and explanatory case study research, the structure, strategy, and training approach of CC was examined. Content and theme analysis of primary and secondary qualitative and quantitative data involving the program’s leadership, direct service providers, partners, participants, and nonparticipants was conducted. This involved a sample of 600 in-depth and short, structured and unstructured interviews and focus groups, archival and participant observation notes.
It was found that CC-GVC was able to meet uncertainty and operated with low institutional resources and paucity of linguistically appropriate teaching resources for new entrants through a flexible leadership approach that adapted to the social situation and was open to innovation. Community technology trainers were also able to engage those without or little direct experience with computers and with low-literacy levels with a linguistically appropriate and culturally sensitive step-by-step teaching approach that empowered and met people where they are. The author expands non-adoption models to include structural barriers in the analysis of the disconnected. It is argued that non-adoption is a result of evolving inequality processes fueled by poverty and under-resourced community development institutions and that teaching and learning is a social and institutional process that takes trust and time.
CC shows that even the most disadvantaged can be empowered to learn-to-learn to use computers and can begin to function online and gain benefit under the most extreme institutional and economic conditions, but it takes more time and resources than providers expected and the Recovery Act provided.
- Publication date
- Book series
- Studies in Media and Communications
- Series copyright holder
- Emerald Publishing Limited
- Book series ISSN