For the past decade, committed researchers, politicians, policy makers, investors, and community-based organizations made concerted efforts to redress the digital divide, but the solution has remained somewhat elusive. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been portrayed in digital divide discourses as the great equalizer that may be leveraged by local communities to combat economic deprivation and foster social inclusion. Thus, there exists a sense of urgency in “bridging the digital divide.” ICT rhetoric is generally utopian, touting innovative models for collaboration, economic activity, learning, and civic involvement.
However, as ICTs become more widely available, we cannot naively assume that historically underserved communities are reaping these highly touted benefits. The rhetoric that celebrates the “bridging of the digital divide” may in fact ring hollow in communities where questions of material existence, not ICT, prevail. People in underserved communities are often consumed with meeting basic human needs such as earning a livelihood, finding comfortable and affordable housing, and creating safe neighborhoods. In light of these persistent economic hardships and related social issues like drugs, crime, discrimination, and homelessness, our wellintended efforts for redressing the digital divide are indeed challenged.
ICT & organization (1b)
ICT & society (1c)
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