Internet Connectedness and Inequality
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:Digital Divide | e-Readiness
This article presents the Internet Connectedness Index (ICI), a measure for monitoring long-term inequalities in the quality of Internet connections among users, especially in terms of whether Internet connections will enhance the chances of people’s upward mobility. This index is preferable to more established digital divide measures (e.g., gadgetry ownership or time online) for research on how the Internet is being incorporated into a world of structural inequalities. The ICI utilizes conventional time, history, and context measures, but goes beyond them to capture the scope and centrality of Internet incorporation into the everyday lives of diverse social groups. The validity and robustness of ICI vis-á-vis conventional ownership and time online measures are demonstrated in this article. In addition, the authors discuss theoretical, methodological, and policy implications based on the results. The analytical data are drawn from the Communication Technology and Community Program’s Metamorphosis Project, an inquiry into the communication infrastructures of seven ethnically marked residential areas in Los Angeles.