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 2: Digital World: From Divides to Socio-Digital Inequalities
Digital World: From Divides to Socio-Digital Inequalities
‘We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible? Time and Space died yesterday.’
While researchers and practitioners discussed in the last chapter were busy developing more nuanced and comprehensive theories of inequalities, the world changed. The internet, previously the realm of the military and scientists, became a public resource. The invention of browsers and interactive social media piqued the interest of users beyond geeky early adopters in the 21st century. Echoing Rogers’ (1995) diffusion of innovation theory, many policy and academic briefs assumed an unescapable trajectory towards ...