Social Exclusion in the New Economy: Beyond the Digital Divide
AbstractAs new information and communication technologies contribute to the restructuring of relationships of production and distribution and connect people and places across the globe in new ways, concerns have emerged regarding the formation of a ‘digital divide’ between those who can access and make use of these new technologies and those who cannot. That is, how can we ensure that the information age does not create new and exacerbate existing inequalities, let alone any hope that these gulfs will be narrowed? What is often missing from these discussions is an understanding and articulation of the mechanisms that continue to create and exacerbate inequalities both between and within states. This article will, therefore, explore competing theoretical explanations of poverty, exclusion and inequality that have evolved through history both in academia and in everyday understandings of these phenomena. As changes within the “new economy” become evident, one must recognize that inequality, poverty and exclusion are rarely experienced along a single axis. Thus, while the digital divide is but one expression of current inequalities, a closing of this inequality and others requires a fuller understanding of the mechanisms, both material and ideological that generate and legitimate diverse and complex experiences of exclusion.