digital divide

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The differential access to computers, information, the internet, and telecommunications, globally, regionally, nationally, and locally, that also comprises unequal access to job opportunities, resources, and training. ‘To characterise the digital divide solely as a technological divide is a (common) misconception…To some extent it is true that the digital divide is a new name for an old phenomenon: uneven spatial distribution of resources’ (Crampton (2001) Pres. to Ass. Internet Researchers). ‘Advanced technologies have a pro-rich bias: they are essentially designed for developed countries’ (J. James2002). For less economically developed countries, strategies for closing the divide aim to leapfrog the earlier stages of economic development, bringing advanced communication technologies to areas of deprivation, in a way suited to local socio-economic conditions; for example, the ‘phoneshop’ system (James (2000) Development and Change 31, 4). Dasgupta et al. (2001W. Bank Working Paper; WPS 2567) highlight the importance of government policy: ‘simulations based on the econometric results, suggest that feasible reforms could sharply narrow the digital divide during the next decade for many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.’ See the World Bank's annual Little Data Book for data on technology and infrastructure from over 200 countries.

In England and Wales, the areas with the highest proportion of households with broadband tend to be in dense, middle-class suburbs. For UK government initiatives, see the Dept. Trade and Industry Policy Action Team 15 Report.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.

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