The Digital Divide: The Internet and Social Inequality in International Perspective
This book provides an in-depth comparative analysis of inequality and the stratification of the digital sphere.
Grounded in classical sociological theories of inequality, as well as empirical evidence, this book defines ‘the digital divide’ as the unequal access and utility of internet communications technologies and explores how it has the potential to replicate existing social inequalities, as well as create new forms of stratification. The Digital Divide examines how various demographic and socio-economic factors including income, education, age and gender, as well as infrastructure, products and services affect how the internet is used and accessed. Comprised of six parts, the first section examines theories of the digital divide, and then looks in turn at:
- Highly developed nations and regions (including the USA, the EU and Japan);
- Emerging large powers (Brazil, China, India, Russia);
- Eastern European countries (Estonia, Romania, Serbia);
- Arab and Middle Eastern nations (Egypt, Iran, Israel);
- Under-studied areas (East and Central Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa).
Providing an interwoven analysis of the international inequalities in internet usage and access, this important work offers a comprehensive approach to studying the digital divide around the globe. It is an important resource for academic and students in sociology, social policy, communication studies, media studies and all those interested in the questions and issues around social inequality.
This chapter addresses major dimensions of Internet-related inequalities in contemporary Russia including relevant regional, urban/rural, income, gender, occupation and age-related predictive variables commonly used in order to operationalize differences in socioeconomic positions of individuals and families and, correspondingly, in their access to the Internet. The analysis is based on multiple data sources – from 2007-2010 Russian Federal State Statistics Service Household Budget Survey data to Public Opinion Research Foundation (FOM) Internet Use Survey (2002-2011) and other opinion and market research agencies’ data on Internet coverage among different population groups. In addition to examining causes of a gap in access to Internet using computers and mobile phones, current policies aimed at closing the digital divide as well as prospects and possibilities of convergence between different groups of population in patterns of information technologies usage will be briefly analyzed.