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Digital inequalities 2.0: Legacy inequalities in the information age

Laura Robinson 1 Jeremy Schulz 2 Grant Blank 3 Massimo Ragnedda 4 Hiroshi Ono 5 Bernie Hogan 3 Gustavo Mesch 6 Shelia Cotten 7 Susan Kretchmer 8 Timothy Hale 9 Tomasz Drabowicz 10 Pu Yan 3 Barry Wellman 11 Molly-Gloria Harper 12 Anabel Quan-Haase 13 Hopeton Dunn 14 Antonio Casilli 15, 16, 17, 18 Paola Tubaro 19, 20 Rod Carveth 21 Wenhong Chen 22 Julie Wiest 23 Matías Dodel 24 Michael Stern 7 Christopher Ball 9 Kuo-Ting Huang 25 Aneka Khilnani 26
Abstract : 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the “digital divide.” Although a quarter century has passed, legacy digital inequalities continue, and emergent digital inequalities are proliferating. Many of the initial schisms identified in 1995 are still relevant today. Twenty-five years later, foundational access inequalities continue to separate the digital haves and the digital have-nots within and across countries. In addition, even ubiquitous-access populations are riven with skill inequalities and differentiated usage. Indeed, legacy digital inequalities persist vis-à-vis economic class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, aging, disability, healthcare, education, rural residency, networks, and global geographies. At the same time, emergent forms of inequality now appear alongside legacy inequalities such that notions of digital inequalities must be continually expanded to become more nuanced. We capture the increasingly complex and interrelated nature of digital inequalities by introducing the concept of the “digital inequality stack.” The concept of the digital inequality stack encompasses access to connectivity networks, devices, and software, as well as collective access to network infrastructure. Other layers of the digital inequality stack include differentiated use and consumption, literacies and skills, production and programming, etc. When inequality exists at foundational layers of the digital inequality stack, this often translates into inequalities at higher levels. As we show across these many thematic foci, layers in the digital inequality stack may move in tandem with one another such that all layers of the digital inequality stack reinforce disadvantage.
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Laura Robinson, Jeremy Schulz, Grant Blank, Massimo Ragnedda, Hiroshi Ono, et al.. Digital inequalities 2.0: Legacy inequalities in the information age. First Monday, University of Illinois at Chicago Library, 2020, 25 (7), ⟨10.5210/fm.v25i7.10842⟩. ⟨halshs-02889893⟩

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