The role of the habitus in shaping discourses about the digital divide

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In this ethnographic study, I examine the discourses that social agents enact as they increase their awareness of information technology (IT) and the digital divide. The social agents in this study are authorities in the municipal government and African-American adults taking part in a community technology initiative in an urban, working-class neighborhood. The findings suggest that both participants and authorities adopted a narrow perspective on IT as a production tool to support business-related skills such as word processing and spreadsheets, which were believed to broaden access to employment opportunities. Despite the rapid growth in Internet-based applications and services as a justifying discourse of the authorities who create and manage the community technology training program, computer networking was not an important part of the program curriculum. The habitus is used as a theoretical lens for explaining the prevailing perceptions of IT as a production-oriented tool, why these perceptions reflect the social milieu of urban working-class communities, and how these perceptions engender discourses that may unwittingly reinforce social inequities that structure the digital divide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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