The Internet and Knowledge Gaps: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:Digital Divide | Digital Inclusion | Digital Literacy | Participation | Usage & Uptake
Although the knowledge gap hypothesis is often mentioned in connection with the social consequences of the Information Society, there is little discussion of its theoretical background or specific empirical evidence. Therefore, this article explores the theoretical potential of the knowledge gap perspective for Internet research and presents data based on two recent Internet surveys, which demonstrate a double digital divide. Access to the Internet in Switzerland is still dominated by well-educated, affluent, young males and between 1997 and 2000 the gap between those who do and those who do not have access widened not narrowed. Furthermore, there are gaps in the use of the Internet too. More educated people use the Internet more actively and their use is more information oriented, whereas the less educated seem to be interested particularly in the entertainment functions of the Internet.