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Digital Cities: The Internet and the Geography of Opportunity (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics)by Karen Mossberger
Synopses & Reviews
In an age when the United Nations has declared access to the Internet a human right, and universal access to high-speed broadband is a national goal, urban areas have been largely ignored by federal policy. The cost of that neglect may well be the failure to realize the social benefits of broadband and a broadly-connected digital society.
Technology offers unparalleled advantages for innovation in urban areas - in the economy, health care, education, energy, transportation, government services, civic engagement, and more. With their density and networks of activity, cities hold the most potential for reaping the benefits of technology. But there are surprisingly substantial disparities in broadband adoption across cities. More puzzlingly, rather than promoting innovation or addressing the high cost of broadband access, the US has mostly funded expensive rural infrastructure in sparsely-populated areas.
Digital Cities tells the story of information technology use and inequality in American metropolitan areas and discusses directions for change. The authors argue that mobile-only Internet, the form used by many minorities and urban poor, is a second-class form of access, as they offer evidence that users with such limited access have dramatically lower levels of online activity and skill. Digital citizenship and full participation in economic, social and political life requires home access. Using multilevel statistical models, the authors present new data ranking broadband access and use in the nation's 50 largest cities and metropolitan areas, showing considerable variation across places. Unique, neighborhood data from Chicago examines the impact of poverty and segregation on access in a large and diverse city, and it parallels analysis of national patterns in urban, suburban and rural areas. Digital Cities demonstrate the significance of place for shaping our digital future and the need for policies that recognize the critical role of cities in addressing both social inequality and opportunity.
Just as education has promoted democracy and economic growth, the Internet has the potential to benefit society as a whole. Digital citizenship, or the ability to participate in society online, promotes social inclusion. But statistics show that significant segments of the population are still excluded from digital citizenship. The authors of this book define digital citizens as those who are online daily. By focusing on frequent use, they reconceptualize debates about the digital divide to include both the means and the skills to participate online. They offer new evidence (drawn from recent national opinion surveys and Current Population Surveys) that technology use matters for wages and income, and for civic engagement and voting. Digital Citizenship examines three aspects of participation in society online: economic opportunity, democratic participation, and inclusion in prevailing forms of communication. The authors find that Internet use at work increases wages, with less-educated and minority workers receiving the greatest benefit, and that Internet use is significantly related to political participation, especially among the young. The authors examine in detail the gaps in technological access among minorities and the poor and predict that this digital inequality is not likely to disappear in the near future. Public policy, they argue, must address educational and technological disparities if we are to achieve full participation and citizenship in the twenty-first century. Karen Mossberger is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Public Administration, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago. Caroline J. Tolbert is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa. She and Karen Mossberger are coauthors (with Mary Stansbury) of Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide. Ramona S. McNeal is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Political Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
About the Author
Karen Mossberger is Professor of Public Administration at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Caroline J. Tolbert is Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa
William W. Franko is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Auburn University.
Table of Contents
1. Cities and a Digital Society
2. The Need for Urban Broadband Policy
3. Place and Inequality: Urban, Suburban, and Rural America
4. Mobile Access and The Less-Connected
5. Ranking Digital Cities and Suburbs
6. Mapping Opportunity in Chicago Neighborhoods
7. The Geography of Barriers to Broadband Adoption
8. Barriers to Adoption in Chicago Neighborhoods
9. From Neighborhoods to Washington: Policy Solutions
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