Establishing the human perspective of the information society
Partridge, Helen L. (2007) Establishing the human perspective of the information society. .
The digital divide is a core issue of the information society. It refers to the division
between those who have access to, or are comfortable using, information and
communication technology (ICT) (the "haves") and those who do not have access
to, or are not comfortable using ICT (the "have-nots"). The digital divide is a complex
phenomenon. The majority of studies to date have examined the digital divide from
a socio-economic perspective. These studies have identified income, education and
employment as the key factors in determining the division between the "haves" and
the "have-nots". Very little research has explore the psychological, social or cultural
factors that contribute to digital inequality in community. The current study filled this
gap by using Bandura's social cognitive theory (SCT) to examine the psychological
barriers that prevent individuals from integrating ICT into their everyday lives.
SCT postulates that a person will act according to their perceived capabilities and
the anticipated consequences of their actions. Four studies have explored the digital
divide using SCT. Because of limitations in the research design these studies have
shed only limited light onto current understanding of digital inequality in community.
The current research was the first study exploring the digital divide that (i)
incorporated both socio-economic and socio-cognitive factors, (ii) used a community
context that ensured the recruitment of participants who represented the full
spectrum of the general population, and (iii) was conducted in both the US and
Australia. Data was gathered via self administered questionnaires in two
communities: Brisbane, Australia and San Jose, USA. Completed questionnaires
were obtained from 330 and 398 participants from the US and Australia,
Hierarchical regression analysis was used to explore the research question: what
influence do socio-cognitive factors have in predicting internet use by members of
the general population when the effects of socio-economic factors are controlled?
The results of this analysis revealed that attitudes do matter. The US study found
that socio-economic factors were not statistically significant predictors of internet
use. The only factor that found to be a significant predictor of use was internet self
efficacy. In short individuals with higher levels of internet self efficacy reported
higher levels of internet use. Unlike the US study, the Australian study found that by
themselves several socio-economic factors predicted internet use. In order of
importance these were age, gender, income and ethnicity. However, the study also revealed that when socio-economic factors are controlled for, and socio-cognitive
variables included into the analysis, it is the socio-cognitive and not the socioeconomic
variables that are the dominant (in fact the only!) predictors of internet
The research illustrated that the digital divide involves more than just the availability
of resources and funds to access those resources. It incorporates the internal forces
of an individual that motivates to them to use or integrate ICT into their lives. The
digital divide is not just about ICT such as computers and the internet. It is about
people. As such, the key to solving the issue of digital inequality is not going to be
found with corporate or government funds providing physical access to technology.
Instead, the key to solving digital inequality is inside the individual person. The
alternative view of the digital divide presented in this research is by no means
intended to minimise the role played by socio-economic factors. Indeed, the socioeconomic
perspective has helped shed light on a very real social issue. What this
research has done is suggest that the digital divide is more complex and more
involved than has been imagined, and that further and different research is required
if genuine insights and real steps are going to be made in establishing an
information society for all.
Impact and interest:
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|Item Type:||QUT Thesis (PhD)|
|Supervisor:||Edwards, Sylvia, Bruce, Christine, Hallam, Gillian, & Baxter, Paul|
|Keywords:||information society, information literacy, digital divide, social cognitive theory, psychology, haves, have-nots, self-efficacy, survey method, internet, Australia, USA|
|Department:||Faculty of Information Technology|
|Institution:||Queensland University of Technology|
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright Helen Louise Partridge|
|Deposited On:||03 Dec 2008 14:06|
|Last Modified:||29 Oct 2011 05:49|
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