Cultural (RE)production of digital inequality in a US community technology initiative

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Abstract

In the US, community technology centers (CTC) are a policy response to facilitate the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICT) to citizens who might otherwise lack access to these resources. The implicit assumption guiding CTC initiatives is that access to ICT will improve the life chances of the individuals who become involved in these centers. It is, however, prudent to empirically examine this assumption because the case for community technology interventions is somewhat weakened if the benefits of ICT use fail to accrue to those who are disadvantaged. Informed by Bourdieu's theory of reproduction, this study of a CTC initiative in an inner-city community explores the role of culture in reproducing digital inequality. Digital inequality reflects not only disparities in the structure of access to and use of ICT; it also reflects the ways in which longstanding social inequities shape beliefs and expectations regarding ICT and its impacts on life chances. While this initiative is considered successful in the sense that it provided access and basic computer literacy to residents lacking these resources, it represents a technology-centric fix to a problem that is deeply rooted in systemic patterns of spatial, political and economic disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-181
Number of pages22
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences

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