With the increased digitisation of society comes an increased concern about who is left behind. From societal causes to the impact of everyday actions, The Digital Disconnect explores the relationship between digital and social inequalities, and the lived consequences of digitisation. Ellen J. Helsper goes beyond questions of digital divides and who is connected. She asks why and how social and digital inequalities are linked and shows the tangible outcomes of socio-digital inequalities in everyday lives. The book: • Introduces the key theories and concepts needed to understand both ‘traditional’ and digital inequalities research. • Investigates a range of socio-digital inequalities, from digital access and skills, to civic participation, social engagement, and everyday content creation and consumption. • Brings research to life with a range of qualitative vignettes, drawing out the personal experiences that lay at the heart of global socio-digital inequalities. The Digital Disconnect is an expert exploration of contemporary theory, research and practice in socio-digital inequalities. It is also an urgent and impassioned call to broaden horizons, expand theoretical and methodological toolkits, and work collectively to help achieve a fairer digital future for all. Ellen J. Helsper is Professor of Digital Inequalities at the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics and Political Science.
Times change. Early in the 21st century, calls to bridge the digital divide were dismissed by people who saw internet access as a luxury. Two decades later, it is tough to find a policy maker, business leader, or academic arguing against the importance of high speed, broadband internet access. The internet and related Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have become household staples and are seen to have the power to transform lives for the better. In parallel, our understanding of the risks and opportunities of digitisation has matured. When I started writing this book, the language of ‘divides’ was still prominent, but has since been replaced by an outcomes-based approach that links social and digital inequalities (Helsper, 2012). These latter ideas frame this book, ...