Extending Australia's digital divide policy: an examination of the value of social inclusion and social capital policy frameworks
Digital divide policies have been historically rooted within the information society / knowledge economy credo and as such they have been largely motivated by the anticipated value of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) diffusion. In Australia, a range of government policies have attempted to address inequalities in ICT access and use since the late 1990s. Despite these attempts, key determinants of internet access such as age, income, educational attainment and Indigenous status are proving to be persistent, while more complicated and nuanced factors are likely to be determining the way people use the internet. In order to examine how the social benefits of internet access and use can be understood and harnessed in Australia, we explore the implications of adding two concepts to policy deliberations: social inclusion and social capital. In line with the network society thesis, both concepts highlight the way social, political and economic practices, institutions and relationships are increasingly organised through ICT mediated network structures.
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