Archive for the ‘digital divide’ tag

The Digital Divide:- Geography and Criminology   no comments

Posted at 3:58 pm in Criminology

The Digital Divide has become a popular term, commonly understood as the gap between those that have access to the internet and those that do not. Initially it is assumed this gap is simply between the developed and developing countries, also known as the Global Divide. However, there are other distinct aspects of the divide; Social divide – the gap within each nation, and the Democratic Divide – those who use/do not use digital resources in their pubic life.

Although there are several efforts and schemes in place with the hope of bridging the gap, it is a great issue that is highly unlikely to be solved in the near future. In fact it is most probable that the gap will carry on growing, increasing the difficulty of bridging it.

This topic has always intrigued me. I believe this is a great opportunity to research the matter through the perspectives of Geography and Criminology.

> Geography

Geography, the study of “the world around us”, already draws upon a range of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, geology, politics, and oceanography.

It is divided into two parts; Human and Physical Geography. Although I will hope to cover both parts, I believe my research will heavily focus within the Human side of Geography, as it emphasises on the changes of the world effected by human interventions.

I anticipate to discover research amongst one of the main topics of Geography; Globalisation – a defined term used since the 1990s describing the characteristics of the world we live in.

> Criminology

With absolutely zero previous experience in the field of Criminology, I hope this will give a different insight to the Digital Divide in comparison to Geography, and with a closer focus on the topic, such as social inequality.

Light research has already demonstrated there is a vast interest in crime and criminals, and that crime varies throughout different societies. There are several explanations criminologists have composed from Biological explanations to Social and Psychological explanations. There are also several different theories created to explain reasons for crime including the Economic and Strain theory.

> Resources

To date, the following books appear to be of great use and help towards this research study:

Daniels, P., Bradshaw, M., Shaw, D., Sidaway., (2012)  An Introduction to Human Geography, 4th ed, Essex: Pearson

Moseley, W., Lanegran, D., Pandit, K., (2007) Introductory Reader in Human Geography Contemporary Debates and Classic Writings, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

Hale, C., Hayward, K., Wahidin, A., Wincup, E., (2009) Criminology, 2nd ed, New York: Oxford University Press

Norris, P., (2001) Digital Divide, Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet Worldwide, New York: Cambridge University Press


Written by Sophie Parsons on October 12th, 2013

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Anthropology & global issues   no comments

Posted at 9:26 pm in Uncategorized

This week I have done some more reading on anthropology’s methods, complementing the findings I wrote about last week. The more I found out about anthropology, the more I wondered how as a discipline it would tackle global issues. Indeed from reading the introductory texts, I got the sense that anthropology (the socio-cultural kind) was concerned with the study of human kind. A priori this doesn’t seem to pose a problem in terms of the globality of the subject matter, but in its approach and even epistemology, anthropology is firmly based on the notion of classification. Indeed its ontologies are cultures, peoples, societies, etc. and its methods are primarily descriptive and comparative, assuming the existence of different ‘things’ to compare. As mentioned in previous posts, an anthropologist looks at a society/community/social group which he/she investigates doing fieldwork, conducting interviews, historical research, etc. But what happens when the group in question is the entire world population, as is often the case with so-called global issues? How then would such a discipline tackle questions that seem to contradict its own epistemological foundations?

Trying to look at the digital divide from an anthropological lens, I have hit what might be the crux of the issue in this assignment – how to let go of my previous assumptions about the world, shaped in large parts by my training in International Relations and instead of re-phrasing the ‘problématique’ I immediately see with the global digital divide in anthropological terminology, attempt to ‘discover’ the problems and ‘frame’ it as an anthropologist would. In order to try and do that, and while I did find some answers in the introductory readings, I decided nevertheless to look for some more targeted articles on the issue.

An article by Kearney (1995) ‘The Local and the Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism’ in Annual Review of Anthropology was particularly helpful. The answers or thinking I considered fall in two broad categories – theoretical and practical.

On the practical side, Peoples and Bailey (2000, p. 5) assert that for global issues, which have admittedly gained importance in the past two decades, anthropologists are often called to consult on specific projects – an emerging sub-field of the discipline referred to as applied anthropology. The idea here is that solutions to global problems often require local knowledge, provided by traditional anthropological research and therefore increasingly useful in the field.

On the theoretical front, Kearney recognises that new thinking is required in ‘anthropological theory and forms of representation that are responses to such nonlocal contexts and influences’ (1995, p. 547). He sees global issues (and globalisation) as having ‘implication for [anthropology’s] theory and methods’ as research which is limited to local units of analysis ‘yield incomplete understandings of the  local’ (1995, p. 548). He sees the redefinition of space-time into a multidimensional global space with fluid boundaries and sub-spaces as the most important disruption to anthropological epistemology. He also notes that the notion of ‘progress’ assumed in the discipline and the notion of ‘development’ is and needs to be questioned in the context of globalisation, that is to say that there is no inevitability in the course of global history. Moreover with the ‘deterritorialisation’ of culture, the focus of anthropological study is shifting towards ‘identity’.  Underpinning these changes is the fundamental reframing of the concept of classification, no longer considered ‘an invariant subject of investigation in anthropology, but taken instead as a historically contingent world-view category’ (1995, p. 557).

This has given me some interesting avenues to explore so I will conclude my introductory reading on anthropology here. Next week I will start looking at management as a discipline.


Kearney M. (1995) ‘The Local and the Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism’ in Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 24, pp. 547-565

Peoples, J. and Bailey, G. (2000) Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, 5th ed., Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning

Written by Jennifer Welch on November 5th, 2012

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Anthropology – approaches and methodologies   no comments

Posted at 9:18 pm in Uncategorized

Picking up where I left off last week, I will now present the different approaches and methodologies of anthropology as a discipline.

We have already seen that social and cultural anthropology – also known as ethnography – as a discipline endeavours to answer the questions of what is unique about human beings, or how are social groups formed, etc. This clearly overlaps with many other social sciences. For all the authors reviewed, what distinguishes anthropology from other social sciences is not the subject studied, but the discipline’s approach to it. For Peoples and Bailey (2000, pp. 1 and 8), anthropological approach to its subject is threefold:

  • Holistic
  • Comparative
  • Relativistic

The holistic perspective means that ‘no single aspect of human culture can be understood unless its relations to other aspects of the culture are explored’. It means anthropologists are looking for connections between facts or elements, striving to understand parts in the context of the whole.

The comparative approach, for Peoples and Bailey (2000, p. 8) implies that general theories about humans, societies or cultures must be tested comparatively- ie that they are ‘likely to be mistaken unless they take into account the full range of cultural diversity’ (Peoples & Bailey 2000, p. 8).

Finally the relativistic perspective means that for anthropologists no culture is inherently superior or inferior to any other. In other words, anthropologists try not to evaluate the behaviour of members of other cultures by the values and standards of their own. This is a crucial point which can be a great source of debate when studying global issues, such as the topic we will discuss on the global digital divide.  And it is why I will spend one more week reviewing literature on anthropology before moving on to the other discipline of management – to see how anthropology is general applied to more global contexts. I will then try to provide a discussion on the issues engendered by the approaches detailed above.

So for Peoples and Bailey these three approaches are what distinguish anthropology from most other social sciences. For Monaghan and Just, the methodology of anthropology is its most distinguishable feature. Indeed they emphasise fieldwork – or ethnography – as what differentiates anthropology from other social sciences (Monaghan & Just 200, pp. 1-2). For them ‘participant observation’ is ‘based on the simple idea that in order to understand what people are up to, it is best to observe them by interacting intimately over a longer period of time’ (2000, p. 13). Interview is therefore the main technique to elicit and record data (Monaghan & Just 2000, p. 23). This methodological discussion is similarly found  in Peoples & Bailey and Eriksen (2010, p.4) defines anthropology as ‘the comparative study of cultural and social life. Its most important method is participant observation, which consists in lengthy fieldwork in a specific social setting’. This particular methodology also poses the issues of objectivity, involvement or even advocacy. I will address these next week after further readings on anthropological perspectives in global issues, trying to assess the tensions between the global and particular, the universal and relative and where normative endeavour stand among all these.


Eriksen, T. H. (2010) Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology 3rd edition, New York: Pluto Press

Monaghan, J. and Just, P. (2000) Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Peoples, J. and Bailey, G. (2000) Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, 5th ed., Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning

Written by Jennifer Welch on October 29th, 2012

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Demographic and Artistic Views of Digital Divide: Act One Scene One   no comments

Posted at 11:51 am in Uncategorized

Digital divide is generally defined as gap in access to digital technology marked by age, disability, race, gender, culture, religion, location , and socioecomic status.
The advent of the Internet and the invention of the world wide web has transformed our societies. The potential of this transformation is not in doubt, however, what will happen to the gap between “information haves” and “Information have nots”? Will the gap be eroded or aggravated?
The series of post will focus on causes and consequences of the inequalities and inequities (if any) that exist in the digital world.
Historically, there are two poles to the issue of digital divide – optimist and pessimist views. The optimists see the transformation into the digital world as an opportunity for social change where digital technology will significantly increase the quality of life and remedy the inequalities of the non-digital world whereas the pessimists posit that the inequalities and other ills of the pre-digital world would be reproduced in the digital world as such digital technology is not an opportunity for social change.

The definition of digital divide suggests that digital divide is dimensional in space, time, and context. As a result, recourse to the fields of demography and design science is a requirement for understanding these dimensions.
Demography as the study of size and composition of population, internal changes to the composition , and the relationship between the sociophysical changes and the environment. The demographic arm will provide qualitative and quantitative handles to explore the space and time dimensions of digital divide.

If digital technology is artificial then it could be treated as a work of art. With design science, a clearer insight into designing can be gained. Design science is a system of logically related knowledge, which should contain and organize the complete knowledge about and for designing. This knowledge will facilitate the understanding of digital technology in context. Is digital technology a misfit? Watch out!!

Likewise, design science as a system of logically related knowledge, which should contain and organize the complete knowledge about and for designing is crucial to the understanding of digital technology in context. Is digital technology a misfit? Watch out!!

Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander
Demography: The Study of Human Population 2nd ed. by David Yaukey and Douglas L. Anderton
Digital Divide by Pippa Norris

Written by Segun Aroyehun on October 23rd, 2012

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The digital divide through an anthropological and management lens   no comments

Posted at 7:01 pm in Uncategorized

With a background in international relations, I came to Web Science with an initial interest in communication and communication technologies, and how those impact on post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts. At the time I came to identify this interest I was working for a Social Brand consultancy, helping organisations to recognise the transformational effect of social media on businesses and how to adapt to it. My first project there was to develop a ranking of Social Brands, the Social Brands 100. So while everyone around me seemed to be raving about the power of the Web and social media, I started thinking of those who don’t have access to it.

Eg of FB updateOn 11 March 2011, coincidentally the launch day of the Social Brands 100, an earthquake struck Japan with devastating consequences. During the earthquake and in its aftermath, my Japanese friend was stuck in her office building for a few days, regularly posting Facebook updates to reassure friends and family that she was alright.

The possibilities for using social media in times of crisis seemed great. There were already forays into the idea with platforms like Ushahidi  which enables crowdsourcing of information during crises via various channels (another 2011 Social Brands 100 nominee!)… But all this got me thinking that those whom such platforms or ideas could help the most were often those without access to the Internet of the Web.

Now the purpose of this assignment is to focus on particular disciplines and the approach each would take to evaluate the issue rather than on the issue itself, but we still need to define what we will look at through the disciplinary lenses. I have chosen to examine the disciplines of management and anthropology, and over the course of the next few weeks will attempt to get an idea of their epistemologies and ontologies, the basic theories that underpin them and see whether it is helpful or beneficial to combine them to understand some of the issues around the digital divide. For Chen and Wellman (2004, p. 40) ‘the digital divide involves the gap between individuals (and societies) that have the resources to participate in the information era and those that do not’. It is a complex problem characterised by wide ranging aspects – socioeconomic, technological, linguistic factors, social status, gender, life stage and geography (Chen and Wellman 2004, pp. 39-42). Going into too much detail at this stage is not necessary, as the relevant issues to be examined will be framed through each discipline, but it provides a useful starting point.

So next week I will start with Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (3rd Edition) Pluto Press, for Anthropology and for management, David Boddy’s (2008) Management: An Introduction, 4th ed., Prentice Hall.


Chen, W. and Wellman, B. (2004) ‘The Global Digital Divide – Within and Between countries’ in IT & Society Vol.1(7), pp. 39-42.

Written by Jennifer Welch on October 14th, 2012

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