Dimensions of the Digital Divide

Dimensions of the Digital Divide

Marcus Leaning (University of Winchester, UK) and Udo Richard Averweg (eThekwini Municipality, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch115

Abstract

The digital divide is a term used to describe a difference in the use of digital media between and within populations. As understanding of the divide has progressed, conceptualizing the various reasons people are not able to avail themselves of the potency of computers and the internet has become more sophisticated. In this article, the authors contend that the idea of the digital divide can be understood to operate in a range of different ‘dimensions'. Previous work on the topic has identified different historically situated ‘orders' of the digital divide and in some ways the dimensions under consideration here match these. However, such accounts tend to locate the forms of divide as occurring sequentially and that the latest form of divide presents the most prescient problems. In contrast the authors contend that the differing forms are still present and that the problem is a multi-faceted one which requires a multi-level approach to address. In this chapter the authors consider the three main dimensions that impact upon a person's ability to make use of digital media.
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Focus Of The Article

This article will look at different aspects of the digital divide. The article is structured so that the broad themes (different dimensions) cover the following aspects, as reflected in Figure 1:

  • physical and material barriers;

  • training and educational barriers; and

  • participation divide issues and barriers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

1st Dimension Divides: The physical and material barriers to participation.

Social Stratification: The way in which a society is organized so that opportunities and benefits are more available to certain members of a society than others.

Information and Information Literacy: The skills needed to successfully use computing technology.

3rd Dimension Barriers: The differences in levels of participation.

Critical Information Literacy: The higher-level skills and understanding that result in a person being able to make use of digital media to further their own interests.

2nd Dimension Barriers: The educational and training barriers to participation.

Digital Participation: The idea that full engagement with digital opportunities assists in furthering one’s self interest.

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