Exploring the Digital Divide: A Case of Russia and Turkey

Exploring the Digital Divide: A Case of Russia and Turkey

Ali Acilar (Bilecik Seyh Edebali University, Turkey), Maxim Markin (Higher School of Economics, Russia) and Elena Nazarbaeva (Higher School of Economics, Russia)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jide.2012070104
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Abstract

Information and communication technology (ICT) is accepted as one of the foundations of modern society. ICTs have become an important part of the modern culture and almost all aspects of life. The information revolution started in the developed countries and mainly these countries have benefitted from these technologies. There are significant differences between developed and developing countries regarding accessing and using ICTs. This can be defined as the global digital divide. There are also different types of the digital divide within a country, such as the gender divide, the age divide, and the income divide. In this paper, the authors explore the digital divide within and between Russia and Turkey.
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1. Introduction

ICTs have dramatically transformed the societies and the economies around the world over the past few decades. With advanced ICTs, especially the Internet, today, the world has become a global village. However, globalized markets are not equally accessible to all people and nations (Wijers, 2010). Although developed countries enjoy the benefits of ICTs in almost all areas of life, developing countries do not benefit enough from these technologies. Emerging economies cannot afford to meet the western levels of ICTs that are required to participate in a global market as conditions of entry are often too high (Wijers, 2010). While the ICTs in general, the Internet and the World Wide Web in particular, have made life easier by facilitating easy communication with virtually everyone, and easy access to information located virtually anywhere in the world, these technologies have also widened the gap between the rich and the poor, the ‘have’ and the ‘have nots’ (Chowdhury, 2002, p. 379). In the information age that we are live in those who are either unable to access the Internet and the World Wide Web through the application of ICTs are increasingly disadvantaged in their access to information (Cullen, 2001).

The inequality in the availability of information technology infrastructure between industrialized countries and the developing countries has always been recognized by various agencies, like the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (Ogunsola & Okusaga, 2006). As a result of advances in information technology, the knowledge gaps between the information-rich and the information-poor have deepened over time and that has caused excluding certain parts of the world from enjoying the fruits of the global village (Iskandarani, 2008). Then the world has begun to notice the phenomenon named the digital divide. New technologies, while improving our life in many ways have created the digital divide (Chowdhury, 2002, p. 379).

Today information technology is more accessible and affordable than even before. While the telecommunications infrastructure has grown and ICT has become less expensive and more accessible, today more than ever, the invisible line that separates rich from poor, men from women and the educated from the illiterate also separates the connected from the disconnected (Zaidi, 2003). The unequal access to and utilization of ICTs has accepted as one of the prevalent issues of our times (Sciadas, 2005). Almost every indicator shows that there is a significant difference between developed and developing countries in terms of accessing and using ICTs. For example, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), while approximately 72% of the population is Internet users in developed countries, this ratio is 21% in developing countries. The number of fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants in developed countries is estimated about 41, but it is 12 in developing countries (ITU, 2010). It can be challenging to access up-to-date knowledge and information in developing countries (Suchak & Eisengrein, 2008). There is a marked difference between developed and developing countries in terms of their take up and ability to use the ICTs (Genus & Nor, 2007).

The main aim of this paper is to explore the digital divide within and between Russia and Turkey. For this reason the authors examine the differences within and between these countries in terms of ICT usage basing on different statistic data.

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