Internet, Politics, Policy (VI). Digital Divides

Notes from the Internet, Politics, Policy 2010: An Impact Assessment conference, organized by the Oxford Internet Institute, and held at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, UK, on September 16-17, 2010. More notes on this event: ipp2010.

Digital Politics Divide: does the Digital Divide still matter?
Andrea Calderaro, European University Institute

From the Digital Divide (Norris, 2001) to the Digital Skills Divide (Van Dijk, 2009) to the Digital Participation Divide.

Wealth factor are still one of the main reasons why people use or do not use the Internet. But also there is an uneven distribution of ownership of web hosts and ownership of Internet domains [I wonder: cause or consequence?].

Concerning the political arena, there are cyber-pessimist and cyber-optimist points of view that need being bridged. The fact is that political parties are also unevenly on line depending on the country.

The reasons for that are the number of internet users, the level of democracy, and the GDP.

Unraveling Different Barriers to Technology Use: Urban Residents and Neighborhood Effects
Karen Mossberger, University of Illinois at Chicago

Uneven access to the Internet may have a negative impact in the opportunities of the people and thus drive them towards social exclusion. And living in poor neighbourhoods, having a low income or lower educational levels are reasons that explain lower access to the Internet.

When asked the citizens of Chicago why they did not had broadband at home, 30% said they were not interested, 27% cost, 9% difficulty.

Per neighbourhood, “not interested” is a reason much likely answered by whites and Asian-Americans (42%), then African-Americans (29%) and then Latinos (19%). By age, older people are more likely (30%) to say that the reason for not having broadband is “lack of skills”, the same ratio when looking at the income.

Neighbourhoods magnify these barriers to access the Internet, because they magnify cot and skill barriers for residents of areas with high concentrations of African-Americans and Latinos. There is a double burden of concentrated poverty.

Amazonian Geeks and Social Activism: An ethnographic study on the appropriation of ICTs in the Brazilian Amazon
Marie Ellen Sluis, University of Amsterdam

Instead of talking about access, talking about what means to have or not to have access: meaningful access. And the same for inclusion and meaning digital inclusion.

Projeto Puraqué is a collective of social activists using ICT as a tool for social inclusion, increasing critical knowledge on regional socio-political problems and issues. ICTs a tool rather than an end.

Examples: opening up the computre to demystify technology and enhance self-steem, raise awareness on e-waste and fostering reuse and recycling as gambiarra alternative,

The project operates in a certain framework that seeks social transformation in the long term and on a sustainability basis. It is the people who decide what is beneficial for them, and the project is a lot about the digitization of what Brazilians do most: social networking.

Indicators of the digital divide and its link with other exclusions
Jocelyne Trémenbert, Institut Telecom / Telecom Bretagne, Université Européenne de Bretagne, Marsouin

The goals of the research is to explore the polymorphism of the digital divide and its links with other forms of exclusion. Is the distance to the Internet different for different types of exclusion? Do we find within the digital divide expressions of exclusion?

Aage, gender, educational level, income, occupational category and localisation enable to predict with +70% accuracy the use of the Internet, especially the occupational category and the educational level. Non-users are often isolated people: the digital divide goes hand in hand with the social divide.

Five types (clusters) of non-users: the users to be (5%), the potential users (19%), probably / hesitants (41%), the resistants (16%), the excluded (19%).

We need new indicators of the digital divide, new elements about the specificities of some categories of non-users, and a new quantitative typology of non-users based on data on inhibitors,motivations, points of view and picturing.



Internet, Politics, Policy 2010: An Impact Assessment (2010)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2010) “Internet, Politics, Policy (VI). Digital Divides” In ICTlogy, #84, September 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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