Understanding information inequality: Making sense of the literature of the information and digital divides
Type of work: Article (academic)
This paper reviews related research since the early 1990s on the information and digital divides. It shows that, despite their shared concerns with illustrating social inequality through the lens of information resource distribution, the two areas in effect represent two overlapping research communities. The research focus and discourse of the former were primarily shaped by three different theoretical perspectives and were inspired by a fairly strong sense of ethical principles; those of the latter, on the other hand, were shaped primarily by four different political standpoints and were imbued with a fairly strong concern for political and economical interests. The co-existence of multifarious perspectives and standpoints has produced divergent, and sometimes contradictory, research findings and policy recommendations, which inevitably perplex researchers and policy makers. The paper concludes with some suggestions for future research and policy making.