From Unequal Access to Differentiated Use: A Literature Review and Agenda for Research on Digital Inequality

Steven Shafer, Princeton University
Coral Celeste, Princeton University
Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University
Eszter Hargittai, Northeastern University
Publication Date:
Jan 2001
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

This paper reviews what we know about inequality in access to and use of new digital technologies. Until recently, most research has focused on inequality in access (the “digital divide”), measured in a variety of ways. We agree that inequality of access is important, because it is likely to reinforce inequality in opportunities for economic mobility and social participation. At the same time we argue that a more thorough understanding of digital inequality requires placing Internet access in a broader theoretical context, and asking a wider range of questions about the impact of information technologies and informational goods on social inequality.


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