Theme 9: Social Stratification and the Digital Divide
  Number of abstracts currently posted to this Theme: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
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. (Last updated: October 10th, 2005)
 
 
 
   
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  The Experience of Non-users of Computers and their Aspirations for their Use:  
  Report of a Study in South London  
  Mike Cushman, Research Fellow, Department of Information Systems  
  London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England, UK  
     
  Ela Klecun, Lecturer, Department of Information Systems  
  London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England, UK  
     
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  Research undertaken as part of the Penceil Project describes the attitudes of non-users of computers, their perceptions of technologies and the uses they might make of it. The research was undertaken on a deprived London housing estate amongst an ethnically and linguistically diverse community.  
     
  The research disclosed widespread anxieties about ICT and a range of aspirations for gaining a competence in its use that is far wider than the conventional employment focussed curricula. While many respondents wished to improve their employment chances through ICT competency they also wanted to use ICT for wider purposes; maintaining contact with countries of birth and disperse family networks, supporting children’s education and Internet shopping.  
     
  Respondents described computers as threatening and different from other cognate technologies, which they often skilfully interacted with (e.g. mobile phones, ATMs, VCRs). This indicates a need for a curriculum which improves understanding of how IT operates as well as competent usage.  
     
  Many respondents expressed a general concern that the world, based on IT, is moving past them, yet they did not perceive many specific forms of exclusion beyond limited job opportunities, but anticipated growing difficulties.  
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  Digital Divide and Digital Opportunity in Taiwan  
     
  Chien Wen-Yin, Doctoral Candidate  
  Department of Sociology and United Daily Poll Center, National Taiwan University, Chung-Ho City, Taiwan  
     
  Chen Yu-Hua, Assistant Professor  
  Department of Agriculture Extension, National Taiwan University, Chung-Ho City, Taiwan  
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  As the pace of technological change accelerates, certain segments of the population are at risk of being left behind in the Information Age. Inequalities in access to and use of ICT have become a central social problem in the fast changing society like Taiwan. Using the 26000 randomly selected samples came from°uDigital Divide in Taiwan 2005°vconducted by RDEC , this paper will provide a descriptive analysis of issues related to the access and use of ICT in Taiwan.  
     
  More specifically, ICT use is strongly conditioned by social inequality and play an important role in determining one’s opportunities. This research will examine the extent to which inequities in the access to and skills in using ICT and focus on the role of technology in widening knowledge gaps between different groups, based on socio-economic status (gender/age/education/ income), ethnic groups, disabilities and rural-urban location. For those who are digitally excluded, why they make little or no use of ICT and their acceptance of adopting technology will also be discussed.  
     
  Finally, how policy helps to promote IT literacy and turn the emerging digital divide into digital opportunity for disadvantaged groups in Taiwan will be considered.  
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  Four Cities and the Mobile Phone- Similarities and Disparities in the Finnish Youth's Mobile Usage  
  Sakari Taipale, Junior Lecturer in Development and International Cooperation  
  Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä, Finland  
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  The paper will discuss the youth’s mobile phone usage in four Finnish cities. The selected cities represent different geographical regions suffering from diverse socio-economic problems. Two of the cities (Helsinki, Jyväskylä) can be described as national technology hubs and school cities, whereas two other (Pori and Kuusamo) are remoter and depopulating centres. Study places and job prospects in these cities, for instance, are more limited than in Helsinki or Jyväskylä.  
     
  The equal distribution of mobile handsets by itself does not yet speak for the total absence of digital divides in Finland. It is obvious that dichotomies, like “haves-have nots”, are inadequate to explain regional differences in mobile phone usage within a given society. The article will begin by arguing that also the ways and purposes of using a mobile phone must be taken into account when analysing the existence of digital divides. The paper will analyse if there is any regional disparities in mobile phone usage among the Finnish youth and it will search for determining variables for possible regional differences and similarities in mobile phone usage. Moreover, the paper will make a difference between three types of mobile phone usage: time and place management, facilitating social relations and amusement use. The paper will be based on a postal survey gathered in March and April 2005 and it will present some initial findings on the subject matter and discuss the concept of digital divide in more general. The data consists of 15-25 years old Finnish speaking adolescents.  
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The Implicit Assumptions of the Four Digital Divides

 
  Adel Ben Youssef, Assistant Professor of Economics  
  EDHEC Business School, University of Paris Sud, Paris, France  
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The digital divide is not a simple statement established by international institutions in search of justification and sense of their actions. It is based on the coherent analytical hypotheses very often accepted without being discussed. The following article proposes to identify these statements and criticize them one after another.

 
     
 

Taking into consideration the diversity of works concerning this subject we propose a classification according to the four dimensions following the rhythm of diffusion of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in a given economy. The first dimension explains economic and social inequality related to the access to equipments and infrastructures. The second one attributes the digital divides to the uses tied with ICT. The inequalities tied with the ICT depend on uses by individuals and social groups. The third one concerns the efficiency of uses. In other terms, certain nations, individuals having identical levels of equipment raise their performances more rapidly than the others. The fourth dimension reflects more education changes in the knowledge based economy. From the moment when information and knowledge become abundant the ICT can be the origin of numerous inequalities related to changes in education processes and as a consequence to the associated performances.

 
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