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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

WSI Conversation Space, Friday, 19th May Event

Conversation Space
Time:
12:00 - 13:00
Date:
19 May 2017
Venue:
University of Southampton Highfield Campus

For more information regarding this event, please email Laura Wilson at l.j.wilson@soton.ac.uk .

Event details

The WSI are hosting an event on Friday, 19th May at the University of Southampton. There will be a group discussion on the topic: Is it time to give up on the digital divide? Two decades ago, the term ‘digital divide’ was coined to describe the geographic and demographic delineations between those who had access to the internet and those who did not. Access is generally considered the ‘first level digital divide’. But ubiquity of quality internet infrastructure, where it exists, does not result in digital equality. Different levels of skill (Hargittai, 2001), confidence, trust and motivation (Warschauer, 2002) result in what some have termed a ‘second level divide’ - different patterns of internet usage, in particular the difference between those who are passive consumers and those who are creators and curators of online content (Dilger, 2008; Correa, 2008). For some, inequalities in the extent to which individuals are able to ‘translate their internet access and use into favourable offline outcomes’ (van Deursen and Helsper, 2015) form a third level divide. A ‘fourth digital divide’ has even been suggested: the phenomenon of former users giving up the internet (Olphert and Damodaran, 2013). How well do these conceptualizations of different levels of digital divide encompass the range of inequalities internet users and non-users may face? How useful are they and to whom? What value is there in continuing to talk about digital divides at all? Is the focus on digital actually, as Gurstein (2015) suggests, just a diversion from broader issues of social inequality?

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