Special Issue "Digital Inequalities"

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A special issue of Future Internet (ISSN 1999-5903).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Roderick Graham

Department of Sociology, Rhode Island College, 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, RI 02903, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social stratification; race and ethnicity; new media technologies; Internet studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Scholars have focused considerable effort on understanding the economic and technological changes in our information society. However, there are also tremendous social changes. Ever increasing amounts of political participation, crime and deviance, education, social networking, and selection of intimate partners are done through information and communication technologies. With so much social activity occurring in the digital environment, it is imperative that scholars explore the implications of this shift.

One area of exploration is the various inequalities that occur because of differences in access or usage between groups. The purpose of this Special Issue, a continuation of the inaugural “Inequality in the Digital Environment” Special Issue published in 2013, will be to explore these inequalities. Previous papers presented research on racial inequalities, access to technology for people with disabilities, and gender differences in online aggression.

Papers for this issue can extend these discussions or explore other issues. Some potential topics include inequalities in:

  • material access to the Internet
  • civic and political participation in the online environment
  • digital literacy
  • social capital
  • telecommunications infrastructure between and within nations
  • social support
  • diversity of usage (With respect to both hardware and software)
  • representative content (web content that reflects the culture or interests of the audience)
  • framing of news stories or events
  • the production of racial and ethnic stereotypes

Dr. Roderick Graham
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Future Internet is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 500 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • digital divide
  • digital inequality
  • social stratification
  • race and ethnicity
  • social Class

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Participatory Design to Enhance ICT Learning and Community Attachment: A Case Study in Rural Taiwan
Future Internet 2015, 7(1), 50-66; doi:10.3390/fi7010050
Received: 30 July 2014 / Revised: 23 December 2014 / Accepted: 26 January 2015 / Published: 2 March 2015
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Abstract
This study used observation and interviews with participants in “PunCar Action” to understand how participatory design methods can be applied to the education of rural individuals in information and communication technology (ICT). PunCar Action is a volunteer program in which ICT educators tour
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This study used observation and interviews with participants in “PunCar Action” to understand how participatory design methods can be applied to the education of rural individuals in information and communication technology (ICT). PunCar Action is a volunteer program in which ICT educators tour the rural communities of Taiwan, offering courses on the use of digital technology. This paper makes three contributions: First, we found that participatory design is an excellent way to teach ICT and Web 2.0 skills, co-create community blogs, and sustain intrinsic motivation to use Web applications. Second, PunCar Action provides an innovative bottom-up intergenerational ICT education model with high penetrability capable of enhancing the confidence of rural residents in the use of ICT. Third, the content of basic courses was based on applications capable of making the lives of elderly individuals more convenient, and the advanced course was based on the co-creation of community blogs aimed at reviving the core functions of communities and expanding local industry. Our research was conducted with the use of a non-quantitative index to measure ICT learning performance of participants from a rural community. The results show that PunCar Action emphasizes interpersonal communication and informational applications and creates a collaborative process that encourages rural residents to take action to close the digital divide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Inequalities)
Open AccessArticle Inside Technology: Opening the Black Box of Health-Website Configuration and Content Management
Future Internet 2014, 6(4), 773-799; doi:10.3390/fi6040773
Received: 1 September 2014 / Revised: 6 November 2014 / Accepted: 22 November 2014 / Published: 10 December 2014
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Abstract
Given the existing divide related to Internet skills and types of Internet use, it is safe to assume that a large proportion of the population uses the Internet for health purposes in a partially productive fashion. We suggest that in addition to user
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Given the existing divide related to Internet skills and types of Internet use, it is safe to assume that a large proportion of the population uses the Internet for health purposes in a partially productive fashion. We suggest that in addition to user characteristics, another factor that inhibits productive Internet use, and thus contributes to the existing gap, is related to the ways in which the technology is configured. The goal of this study was to explore the processes that webmasters and content managers use for constructing and producing, or selecting content, for health websites. Interviews conducted with 23 website builders and managers of websites that represent public and non-public health organizations revealed that they do not plan or conduct activities for content needs elicitation, either in the design stage or on an ongoing basis. Rather, these professionals rely on a “self-embodiment” standard, whereby their and their cohorts’ expectations determine the quality and functionality of the websites’ structure and content. Hence, target groups beyond their social sphere are disregarded, and instead of new opportunities, new cleavages are created. We recommended that government, public and non-public stakeholders work to establish construction standards, to ensure that health websites meet the needs of varied end-user populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Inequalities)
Open AccessArticle Using Multilevel Analysis to Examine the Relationship between Upper Secondary Students Internet Safety Awareness, Social Background and Academic Aspirations
Future Internet 2014, 6(4), 717-734; doi:10.3390/fi6040717
Received: 24 July 2014 / Revised: 18 October 2014 / Accepted: 21 October 2014 / Published: 14 November 2014
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Abstract
Since 2009, most Norwegian students in upper secondary have had access to their own personal computer at school. Hence, with the increased access to technology, the importance of online connectedness has increased for adolescents’ social interaction and communication. It is, therefore, important to
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Since 2009, most Norwegian students in upper secondary have had access to their own personal computer at school. Hence, with the increased access to technology, the importance of online connectedness has increased for adolescents’ social interaction and communication. It is, therefore, important to identify and understand the concept of Internet safety among upper secondary school students. A total of 4216 students from 238 classrooms in 23 upper secondary schools completed an Internet safety assessment. The aim of the study was to operationalize and measure Internet safety in a school context, and to further examine the factors predicting students’ Internet safety awareness and responsibility. Our analysis revealed substantial variation in Internet safety awareness between schools, classrooms and students. Overall, the findings indicate that students’ social backgrounds are determining for their development and understanding of Internet safety awareness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Inequalities)
Open AccessArticle Rikki Don’t Lose That Number: Enumerated Human Rights in a Society of Infinite Connections
Future Internet 2014, 6(3), 482-497; doi:10.3390/fi6030482
Received: 23 June 2014 / Revised: 7 August 2014 / Accepted: 8 August 2014 / Published: 19 August 2014
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Abstract
The international Human Rights regime acknowledges a certain number of rights. That number, albeit increasing since its inception, does not seem able to keep up with the pace of modern technology. Human rights today are not only exercised in the tangible world; they
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The international Human Rights regime acknowledges a certain number of rights. That number, albeit increasing since its inception, does not seem able to keep up with the pace of modern technology. Human rights today are not only exercised in the tangible world; they are also exercised on a daily basis in a world of ubiquitous computing–as such they can be easily breached with a mere click of a button. To make matters worse, these rights are controlled largely by multinational corporations that have little regard for their value. In this paper we will attempt to explore the difficulties the global human rights regime faces today, the challenge that is its enforcement, and whether it has come to a standstill in an age where connections grow faster than the rule of law. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Inequalities)

Review

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Open AccessReview The Gender Digital Divide in Developing Countries
Future Internet 2014, 6(4), 673-687; doi:10.3390/fi6040673
Received: 2 September 2014 / Revised: 16 October 2014 / Accepted: 21 October 2014 / Published: 31 October 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (208 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Empirical studies clearly show that women in the developing world have significantly lower technology participation rates than men; a result of entrenched socio-cultural attitudes about the role of women in society. However, as studies are beginning to show, when those women are able
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Empirical studies clearly show that women in the developing world have significantly lower technology participation rates than men; a result of entrenched socio-cultural attitudes about the role of women in society. However, as studies are beginning to show, when those women are able to engage with Internet technology, a wide range of personal, family and community benefits become possible. The key to these benefits is on-line education, the access to which sets up a positive feedback loop. This review gives an overview of the digital divide, before focusing specifically on the challenges women in developing countries face in accessing the Internet. Current gender disparities in Internet use will be outlined and the barriers that potentially hinder women’s access and participation in the online world will be considered. We will then look at the potential opportunities for women’s participation in a global digital society along with a consideration of current initiatives that have been developed to mitigate gender inequity in developing countries. We will also consider a promising avenue for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Inequalities)

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