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Beyond digital divide: towards an agenda for change

Selwyn, Neil and Facer, Keri (2009) Beyond digital divide: towards an agenda for change. In: Handbook of research on overcoming digital divides: constructing an equitable and competitive information society. IGI Global. ISBN 978-1-60566-699-0

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Abstract

This chapter discusses how digital exclusion continues to present a serious and significant threat to the successful establishment of developed and developing countries as ‘information societies’. Based on a review of recent research and theoretical work, the chapter considers a number of different reasons why digital exclusion remains a complex and entrenched social problem - highlighting the need to recognise the mediating role of economic, cultural and social forms of capital in shaping individuals’ engagements with ICT. From this basis, the chapter proposes a hierarchical framework of digital exclusion based around conceptual ‘stages’ of ICT use. Using this framework, the argument is made that policy makers, technologists and other information society stakeholders face a considerable challenge to match the social affordances of ICTs with the everyday needs, interests and desires of individuals. In this sense digital exclusion continues to demand a complex set of policy responses which go far beyond simply increasing levels of hardware provision and support, and then assuming any ‘gaps’ to have been ‘bridged’. The chapter concludes by highlighting a number of possible directions for future action.

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