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Drawing upon the concept of capital and its uneven distribution, as outlined by Bourdieu, the article highlights the importance of social class, occupational status and place in understanding how individuals and communities make use of and benefit from technology in their everyday lives. Based upon quantitative and qualitative research conducted in the city of Sunderland, England, the article addresses the extent and manner to which those in ‘socially excluded’ areas of the city engage with technology, specifically personal computers and the internet and the impact of such engagement upon quality of life and social inclusion. The research indicates that the manner in which technology is experienced by marginalized social groups in this place, does not fit neatly with a dominant discourse of digital inclusion which emphasizes technology as a means for social inclusion, particularly in the realms of civic participation, educational achievement and employment.
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Keywords: ICTs; digital divide; employment; identity; sociology; urban studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Science, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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