Handbook of Research on Overcoming Digital Divides: Constructing an Equitable and Competitive Information Society
Release Date: September, 2009. Copyright © 2010. 858 pages.
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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-699-0, ISBN13: 9781605666990, ISBN10: 1605666998, EISBN13: 9781605667003
Recently, rapid developments in the digital divide have attracted the attention of both the academic and political worlds due to the reduction of information gaps.
The Handbook of Research on Overcoming Digital Divides: Constructing an Equitable and Competitive Information Society presents a comprehensive, integrative, and global view of what has been called the digital divide. Collecting an international collaboration of experts, this Handbook of Research offers policy makers, academicians, managers, and researchers a complete reference source to the interactions, evolutions, and policies developing within the field.
Table of Contents and List of Contributors
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John C. Bricout, Paul M.A. Baker, Andrew C. Ward, Nathan W. Moon
Much of the discourse on the digital divide focuses on issues of information disparity and accessibility, frequently in socioeconomic terms. This...
Kayenda T. Johnson, Tonya L. Smith-Jackson
This chapter addresses a problem that centers on the persistent disparities in computer use and access among citizens of varying cultural...
Reviews and Testimonials
This handbook contributes to the refinement of existing theories on adoption, diffusion and digital divides and the development of new frameworks to better understand the digital divide, as well as the adoption, use, and impacts of emerging technologies and their applications.
– Enrico Ferro, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB), Italy
This two-volume set is the first handbook of its kind to focus exclusively on the late-20th- and early-21st-century of the digital divide, prevalent in the globalized information society... This handbook will be a welcome addition to any library boasting a research collection.
– Choice , Vol. 47 No. 10
- Broadband access
- Digital divide framing and mapping
- Digital divide related to education
- Digital divide related to ethnicity
- Digital divide related to gender
- Digital Literacy
- E-Government and the Digital Divide
- Evolution of the digital divide
- Inequalities of digital skills
- Regional differences in digital divide
The digital divide is often characterized as being the inequality in the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICT) and groups of individuals who are situated within a complex arrangement of social, environmental, political, and economic issues. Over the past fifteen years, the theme has received significant press coverage, attracting the attention of both the academic and the political world. Reasons for such levels of interest are primarily due to two important issues related to the reduction of information gaps. From a national, regional or local perspective, the elimination of the digital divide is perceived as being a key ingredient in the construction of a socially equitable Information Society. Indeed, not having access – or having a disadvantaged access – to information in a knowledge-based economy is generally considered to be a major handicap. From a global perspective, the race for competitiveness requires that regions and nations learn how to harness the intellectual potential present in their territories. In this respect, the creation of an “e-inclusive” society represents a key strategic goal that governments need to achieve in order to survive increasing international competitive pressure. The need to bridge the information gaps becomes even more pressing if we consider the ever increasing importance of user generated contents in national economies. In such a scenario, it is extremely important to work toward the creation of a society able to contribute to an economy moving towards a participative paradigm.
As a result, the theme of digital division has moved higher on lists of priorities. In Europe, for instance, the elimination of the digital divide represents a key pillar of the Strategic Plan i2010. In contrast, the United States at one time had a robust framework, but now pays relatively little attention to digital inequality as a policy area, possibly presuming that the problem does not exist anymore, or hoping that market forces will close these gaps .
Analysis of previous reviews , on the state of the art of digital divide literature highlighted a very complex picture, characterized by: the existence of schools of thought proposing significantly different views of the digital divide and its potential evolution; the existence of a multiplicity of gaps related to both demand and supply aspects of the digital divide; a variety of theoretical lenses and units of analysis (individual, enterprise, and state/country) that may be used to interpret and analyse the phenomenon; the necessity to better understand the relationship between the digital divide and other complementary phenomena such as eCommerce, eBusiness, eGovernment, eDemocracy, eHealth, etc.; and finally, a fragmentation in the analysis of the phenomenon produced by different - often disjointed - scientific communities.
The production of a publication bringing together contributions from different disciplines and analysing the phenomenon from diverse perspectives could thus be beneficial for the advancement of research activity in this field. Moreover, the presence of many different schools of thought naturally requires some discussion in the search for common ground (i.e. understanding if the results of different approaches depend on the technologies analyzed or the context in which these technologies are embedded).
Finally, the cross-sectional nature of ICT establishes links between different aspects of society that cannot be overlooked. Consequently, the digital divide should not be analysed as an isolated phenomenon, but should be considered alongside numerous other ICT-related issues.
The situation apparent from the current literature reveals the complexity of the theme and calls for a systematization of contributions that help comprehend the phenomenon. Therefore, the overall mission of this ‘Handbook of Research on Overcoming Digital Divides: Constructing an Equitable and Competitive Information Society’ is to contribute toward a greater understanding of this complexity and to offer a comprehensive, integrative, and global view of what has been called the digital divide. Specifically, it aims to focus on the following key objectives:
- Provide a representation of the phenomenon that is as complete as possible (integrative, global, comprehensive, etc.) by bringing together scholars from different disciplines and geographical regions.
- Study the interaction of the digital divide with complementary, intertwined phenomena such as e-government, e-business, e-democracy, and e-health, among others.
- Analyze the digital divide in various contexts (e.g. organisational, societal, national, local/regional) and explore the relationships between these contexts and how these interactions affect the overall results.
- Improve current understanding about what scientific paradigms have been used in the monitoring and analysis of policies aimed at reducing the digital divide and other related inequalities.
- Outline possible evolutions of the digital divide: (1) From hard to soft aspects, (2) From access to use, etc.
- Explore the extent to which existing knowledge and policies on the digital divide are adequate or limited to different national and cultural contexts.
Existing publications on the digital divide tend to provide fragmented and mono-disciplinary views of the phenomenon. As mentioned above, due to the emergence of new forms of ICT and related applications, new manifestations of the digital divide continue to emerge, thus widening the existing gap. It is apparent that in order to capture the evolving and dynamic nature of the digital divide, we require new approaches, theories, and empirical research, and this handbook attempts to assist in this aspect.
Consequently, the handbook is intended to further existing knowledge on the digital divide in presenting treatments of the concept from a contemporary and diverse yet integrative perspective.
The main contribution of the handbook is to provide a comprehensive, integrative and global assessment of the digital divide as a policy domain and social phenomenon. The handbook presents a research roadmap that clearly identifies current topics and suggests future areas for fruitful analysis and research. The handbook also evaluates the adequacy of existing policies, anticipates needs, and, where possible, identifies if a policy refocus is also desirable. In the broader scheme, the handbook presents various insights in order to set out the foundations for a new policy analysis paradigm that better fits the specificities of ICT.
Finally, the handbook contributes to the refinement of existing theories on adoption, diffusion and digital divides (e.g. Diffusion of Innovations, TAM, TPB, Institutional Theory, Stakeholder Theory, Adaptive Structuration Theory, Social Network Theory, Social Inclusion and Exclusion Theory, Usage & Gratification Theory) and the development of new frameworks to better understand the digital divide, as well as the adoption, use, and impacts of emerging technologies and their applications.
The Handbook is organized into 35 chapters, co-authored by 66 contributors from 50 different institutions/organizations located in 13 countries (Australia, China, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and USA). Such geographical and institutional variety indicates that the Handbook has drawn on a collection of wide and diverse perspectives. The 35 chapters have been organized into five sections, namely:
- The Digital Divide as a Social Problem (7 contributions);
- Digital Divides and Inequalities (15 contributions);
- Digital Divides, Competitiveness, and Development (4 contributions);
- Digital Divides, E-Government, and E-Democracy (5 contributions);
- Approaches to study digital divides (4 contributions).
Section I examines, analyzes, and frames the digital divide as a social problem and complex phenomenon in several different ways. This section is further organized into two divisions. A total of three chapters dedicated on presenting overviews, followed by a sub-section, including four chapters, focused on some regional and country cases (such as case from Turkey, United States and developing countries).
The Section II entitled “Digital Divides and Inequalities” examines the forms, causes, and consequences of inequalities in access and use of information and communication technologies. Individual, social, cultural, technological, and political factors are considered in this section and some of their specific manifestations are described and analyzed such as disabilities, education, gender, race, digital skills, and access to broadband. This section is further organized in four divisions. First division entitled ‘Digital Divides and Disabilities’ includes three chapters, followed by second division which includes four chapters examining the role of various demographics (such as gender, age, income, education etc.) in relation to digital divides. The third division includes four chapters dedicated on identifying relationships between digital divides and digital literacy. Finally, the fourth division entitled “Digital Divides and broadband access” presents an insightful discussion on some important factors such as infrastructure, access, and skills.
The Section III entitled “Digital Divides, Competitiveness, and Development” examines the relationships between the access and use of information and communication technologies, productivity, efficiency and development, including individual, social and economic development. This section includes four chapters dealing with various issues on theme of the section. Such studies are largely excluded from previous collections and collations on digital divides.
The Section IV entitled “Digital Divides, E-Government, and E-Democracy” examines the opportunities, challenges, and successes of e-government and e-democracy in relation to the digital divides. The policies for access and development of information and communication technologies are analyzed as tools for participation, inclusion, and equity. Based on some cases, five chapters placed within this section offers models and strategies to deal with the digital divide in this respect, as well as a description of the potential next steps.
Finally, Section V entitled “Approaches to Study Digital Divides” consists of four chapters presenting various perspectives and methodological approaches to the investigation of digital divides.
Considering the richness and depth of the content, we firmly believe that this Handbook will be an excellent resource for readers who wish to learn about the multi-faceted nature of the contemporary digital divide, as well as those interested in finding out when and how to apply various theories and approaches in order to investigate the diverse research issues related to the digital divide. The target audience for the Handbook therefore includes researchers and practitioners within the management discipline in general, and within the information systems field in particular. This resource is equally valuable for policy makers (such as politicians and legislators), non governmental organizations, public sector managers, policy analysts, and voluntary sector organizations/charities.
Concluding, we are convinced that the articles contained in this handbook testify to the complexity and the global relevance of the digital divide. They present insightful accounts of how the digital divide can take many forms and shapes, and may constitute a significant hurdle in the development of socioeconomic systems toward information societies. We sincerely hope that this Handbook will make a positive contribution to the study of the digital divide. In order to achieve further research progress and improvements in the understanding of the subject matter, we welcome feedback and comments about this handbook from readers. Comments and constructive suggestions can be sent to the Editors care of IGI Global at the address provided at the beginning of the handbook.
Enrico Ferro, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB), Italy
Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Swansea University, United Kingdom
J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico
Michael D. Williams, Swansea University, United Kingdom
Cristiano Codagnone, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
Jane E. Fountain, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Manmohan Prasad Gupta, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India
Judith Mariscal, División de Administración Pública, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas A. C., Mexico
Karen Mossberger, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
Pippa Norris, Harvard University, USA
Neil Selwyn, London Knowledge Lab, UK
Jan Van Dijk, University of Twente, The Netherlands
List of Reviewers Stephen Aikins, University of South Florida, USA
Syed Akhter, College of Business, Marquette University
Rucha Ambikar, Center for Information & Society, The Information School, University of Washington
Paul Baker, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Christine Barthold, University of Delaware, USA
John Bricout , University of Central Florida, USA
Brendan Burke, Suffolk University
Andrea Calderaro, California Institute of Technology, USA
Meena Chary, University of South Florida, USA
Francesca Comunello, Sapienza Università di Roma, Facoltà di Scienze della Comunicazione, Italy
Mark Cooper, Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society
Nicoletta Corrocher, CESPRI, Bocconi University, Milan
Barbara Crump, Department of Management, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Elizabeth Davison, Department of Sociology, Appalachian State, USA University, USA
Jos De Haan, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands Institute for Social Research/ SCP
Hopeton Dunn, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Hiram Fitzgerald, Michigan State University, USA
John Garofalakis, Research Academic Computer Technology Institute, Patras, Greece
Richard Ghere, The University of Dayton, USA
Ricardo Gomez, Center for Information & Society, The Information School, University of Washington, USA
Kayla Hales, College of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA
Wei-Min Hu, Peking University, Shenzhen Graduate School of Business, China
Linda Jackson, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, USA
Kayenda Johnson, Virginia Tech, USA
Evika Karamagioli, Deputy Director Gov2U
Andrea Koskeris, Research Academic Computer Technology Institute, Patras, Greece
Lynette Kvasny, College of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA
Susan C. Losh, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University, USA
Cecilia Manrique, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, USA
Judith Mariscal, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Telecommunications Research Program Telecom - CIDE, Carretera México
Steve Martin, University of Maryland, USA
Heather McKay, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers University, USA
John McNutt, University of Delaware, USA
Nathan Moon, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Fay Cobb Payton, College of Management, North Carolina State University, USA
James Prieger, Pepperdine University, USA
Caroline Ratcliffe, Urban Institute
Barbara Re, Dipartimento di Matematica ed Informatica, Università di Camerino
John P. Robinson, University of Maryland, USA
Francesco Sandulli, Departamento de Organización de Empresas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Neil Selwyn, London Knowledge Lab, University of London, UK
Mack Shelley, Iowa State University, USA
Simon Smith, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds, UK
Tonya Smith-Jackson, Virginia Tech, USA
Leo Van Audenhove, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Alexander van Deursen, University of Twente, Department of Media, Communication and Organization
Jan Van Dijk, University of Twente, Department of Media, Communication and Organization
Andrew Ward, University of Minnesota, USA
Barney Warf, Dept. of Geography, University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA
Douglas Wissoker, Urban Institute
Edward Witt, Michigan State University, USA