chapter  12
19 Pages

Transforming Digital Divides in Different National Contexts


The digital divide has constituted a key concept in research in relation to audiences and ICTs (internet and communication technologies) since the early 1990s. However, its meaning and relevance has gradually changed over the years, becoming an extremely complex and stratifi ed concept. Many authors (Warschauer 2002; Carpentier 2003; Selwyn 2004; Wei and Hindman 2011; Tsatsou 2011) have traced the history of the concept as well as its implications for policy makers and audience researchers, revealing its roots in the diffusion theory (Rogers 1995) and in the political framework for actions aimed at overcoming inequalities in access to ICTs and their benefi ts. Following Warschauer (2002, 6), this perspective “attached overriding importance to the physical availability of computers and connectivity, rather than to issues of content, language, education, literacy, or community and social resources,” thus implying a bipolar social split between information haves and have-nots. In addition, Carpentier (2003) shows and then criticises the fact that as a consequence of the dominance of the EU, G8 and other organisations involved in this discussion, the concept became reduced and narrowed down to a focus on the availability of physical access only, making its wider exact signifi cance even more vague.