chapter  6
The New Economy and the Digital Divide: Global and Social Divisions
Pages 33

Optimistic accounts of the new economy focus on technological progress, the increasing use of computing and information technologies, the expansion of knowledge goods, increasing opportunities, productivity and well being. Manuel Castells (2001) argues that we have entered a new technological paradigm centred on microelectronics based information/communication technologies (ICTs) and genetic engineering. The ICT revolution facilitates increasing global integration but is also geographically uneven. In particular Internet access is differentiated by location, social class, gender, ethnicity, age and education, collectively referred to as the digital divide. Existing divisions are often built upon and reinforced by the new communications technologies but even so they still bring new opportunities to disadvantaged groups, which should not be dismissed. In particular it has been suggested that they allow less developed regions to leapfrog stages of development.