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.
Chapter 1: Social World: From Poverty to Inequality
Social World: From Poverty to Inequality
‘Global inequality affects us all, no matter who we are or where we are from.’
The second decade of the 21st century has produced numerous publications arguing that inequalities are on the increase (Piketty, 2020). Similarly, the above quote shows that inequality is high on the international policy agenda (United Nations, 2018). This rise in interest has come after decades of research that shows high levels of inequality have dire consequences for society at large – not just the less affluent. Societies with disparities between the wealthiest and the least well-off have higher rates of unemployment and poverty than more egalitarian societies. More unequal societies also have higher crime rates, worse health, ...