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The third-level digital divide: who benefits most from being online?

van Deursen, Alexander J. A. M. and Helsper, Ellen (2015) The third-level digital divide: who benefits most from being online? In: Robinson, Laura, Cotten, Shelia R., Schulz, Jeremy, Hale, Timothy M. and Williams, Apryl, (eds.) Communication and Information Technologies Annual. Studies in Media and Communications. Emerald, pp. 29-52. ISBN 9781785603815

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Identification Number: 10.1108/S2050-206020150000010002


Purpose Research into the explanations of digital inclusion has moved from investigations of skills and usage to tangible outcomes, what we label here as the third-level digital divide. There is a lack of theoretical development about which types of people are most likely to benefit. Understanding how achieving outcomes of internet use is linked to other types of (dis)advantage is one of the most complex aspects of digital inclusion research because very few reliable and valid measures have been developed. In the current study we took a first step toward creating an operational framework for measuring tangible outcomes of internet use and linking these to the inequalities identified by digital divide research. Methodology/approach After having proposed a classification for internet outcomes, we assessed these outcomes in a representative sample of the Dutch population. Findings Our overall conclusion in relation to the more general relationship between offline resources and third-level digital divides is that the internet remains more beneficial for those with higher social status, not in terms of how extensively they use the technology but in what they achieve as a result of this use for several important domains. Social implications When information and services are offered online, the number of potential outcomes the internet has to offer increases. If individuals with higher social status are taking greater offline advantage from digital engagement than their lower status counterparts, existing offline inequalities could potentially be acerbated.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors.
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2016 17:03
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 09:59

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