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Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide

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Abstract:

Employing narrative analysis of ethnographic interviews with persons from a variety of socioeconomic, educational, and racial/ethnic backgrounds, this paper examines the discursive structure of the digital divide debate as it is articulated among contemporary online users and non-users in the United States. The paper argues that the discourse of individualism serves as a filter that shapes and distorts all private and public conversations about the digital divide and thus limits public debate on the subject. We consider the ways in which secondary topics of technological determinism, educational benefit, and consumer choice are shaped through this filter of individualism. Finally, we explore the extent to which there exists what Jameson (1987) has proposed is a ?third language? that struggles for legitimacy against the first language of individualism: that of Marxist critique. We note that there are nascent hints of this ?third language? in the ways that the digital divide is discussed relative to the specific, lived situations of economic disadvantage among some respondents. Yet we conclude that the potential political power of this ?third language? is muted as it echoes rather than challenges the contradictions inherent to the promise of the digital era that are found at the heart of both corporate advertising and current social policies.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

comput (132), divid (52), individu (50), digit (50), interview (48), peopl (44), use (35), ethnograph (32), technolog (30), access (30), educ (29), way (27), discours (26), relat (26), famili (25), narrat (25), parent (23), mean (23), econom (23), think (21), one (21),

Author's Keywords:

Digital Divide, Ethnography, Discourse, Individualism
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Name: International Communication Association
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MLA Citation:

Clark, Lynn., Demont-Heinrich, Christof. and Webber, Scott. "Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112298_index.html>

APA Citation:

Clark, L. S., Demont-Heinrich, C. and Webber, S. A. , 2003-05-27 "Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112298_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Employing narrative analysis of ethnographic interviews with persons from a variety of socioeconomic, educational, and racial/ethnic backgrounds, this paper examines the discursive structure of the digital divide debate as it is articulated among contemporary online users and non-users in the United States. The paper argues that the discourse of individualism serves as a filter that shapes and distorts all private and public conversations about the digital divide and thus limits public debate on the subject. We consider the ways in which secondary topics of technological determinism, educational benefit, and consumer choice are shaped through this filter of individualism. Finally, we explore the extent to which there exists what Jameson (1987) has proposed is a ?third language? that struggles for legitimacy against the first language of individualism: that of Marxist critique. We note that there are nascent hints of this ?third language? in the ways that the digital divide is discussed relative to the specific, lived situations of economic disadvantage among some respondents. Yet we conclude that the potential political power of this ?third language? is muted as it echoes rather than challenges the contradictions inherent to the promise of the digital era that are found at the heart of both corporate advertising and current social policies.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 28
Word count: 7608
Text sample:
Ethnographic Interviews 1 Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide Introduction: For many years U.S. and other governments around the world have advocated the development of computer skills based on the belief that these skills are a necessity for the emerging marketplace and for participation in self-governance. Public rhetoric about computers trumpets grand sweeping claims about the miracles of information technology often equating technological progress with the promise of social benefits that are equally offered to all (CEO Forum 2001;
Rodman (Eds.) Race in Cyberspace (pp. 191-212). New York: Routledge. Tocqueville Alexis de (2000). Democracy in America (H. C. Mansfield & D. Winthrop Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago. (Original work published in 1835). United States Census Bureau (2001). Poverty 2001. Retrieved September 28 2002 from http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/threshld/thresh01.html United States Department of Commerce. (2002). A nation online: How Americans are expanding their use of the Internet. Retrieved September 28 2002 from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/dn/ Webber S. A. (2003). Ideology and pedagogy: The uses


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