Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Digital Divide

The concept of the "the digital divide" looks at the gap between those who can and cannot access information through technological means. This often leads to economic and social inequality based on the lack of access to information and resources that Internet capabilities provide. The question of the week was: "What social/economic forces shape communication infrastructure?" The digital divide looks at both social and economic variables as it examines which areas in the United States have more broadband access than others, as well as the general demographics of the people who live in the areas that receive certain levels of this access.

The digital divide is most prevalent throughout the United States when looking at rural vs. urban areas. According to Whitacre of phys.org, as of 2015 "74% of households in residential urban areas in the US had broadband connections compared to 64% of rural households". There is an obvious increase in broadband connections for those residing in urban areas. Most scholars look at demographics as one of the main reasons why there is this gap. Some social factors such as race, family income and the level of educational attainment play a further role in the digital divide. From a general standpoint, "certain residents face a larger digital divide than others" (Carlson, 2016). Residents of a minority race, lower family incomes, and those who have lower educational attainment are less likely to access this information.

From an economic standpoint, telecommunication companies also decide whether to install lines by looking at physical factors, such as distance. If there are less people in the area, it would be a greater distance to provide access to, and fewer residents to share the cost.

In summary, the access to technology and information depends on whether a person is living in a rural or urban area, with other social and economic factors taken into consideration. These play a role in the actual development and access to communication infrastructure, as well as an individual's ability to access beneficial resources and information.

Works Cited:

Carlson, E., & Goss, J. (2016, August 10). The State of the Urban/Rural Digital Divide.
Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

Whitacre, B. (2016, June 9). Technology is improving – why is rural broadband access still
a problem? Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

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