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The digital divide versus the ‘digital delay’: Implications from a forecasting model of online news adoption and use

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As the Internet becomes increasingly cheap to access and easy to use, some scholars and industrial figures have argued that the digital divide – the information and democratic gap between different socio-economic segments of societies – will by itself shrink over time and eventually disappear. This paper will employ a forecasting model of online news adoption and use, to argue that, even if the Internet becomes accessible and easy for virtually everybody in the future, such a ‘digital delay’ thesis will not materialise. The digital divide is a social rather than technologically driven phenomenon, caused by variation in many factors beyond access and skills. In addition, the ‘logic of upgrade culture’ of the Internet means that users have to continuously acquire new resources and skills to keep up with its evolution and, therefore, there are always people who are well in advance and those far behind. These are well reflected in the area of online news, where the intertwined effect of Internet experience, news orientation/behaviour, innovativeness and perception of online news attributes render the online news gap between SES (socio-economic status) groups likely to widen, rather than narrow, in the years and decades ahead.
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Keywords: Internet experience; diffusion of innovation; digital divide; innovativeness; knowledge gap; news audience; online news use

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bournemouth University

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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