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The Digital Disconnect

The Digital Disconnect
The Social Causes and Consequences of Digital Inequalities

  • Ellen Helsper - London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

February 2021 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

With the increased digitisation of society comes an increased concern about who is left behind. 

From societal causes to the impact of everyday actions, The Digital Disconnect explores the relationship between digital and social inequalities, and the lived consequences of digitisation. 

Ellen J. Helsper goes beyond questions of digital divides and who is connected. She asks why and how social and digital inequalities are linked and shows the tangible outcomes of socio-digital inequalities in everyday lives. The book:

  • Introduces the key theories and concepts needed to understand both ‘traditional’ and digital inequalities research.
  • Investigates a range of socio-digital inequalities, from digital access and skills, to civic participation, social engagement, and everyday content creation and consumption.
  • Brings research to life with a range of qualitative vignettes, drawing out the personal experiences that lay at the heart of global socio-digital inequalities.

The Digital Disconnect is an expert exploration of contemporary theory, research and practice in socio-digital inequalities. 

It is also an urgent and impassioned call to broaden horizons, expand theoretical and methodological toolkits, and work collectively to help achieve a fairer digital future for all. 

Ellen J. Helsper is Professor of Digital Inequalities at the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics and Political Science.

Part I: The Past: Social and Digital Inequalities Theories
Chapter 1 Social World: From Poverty to Inequality
Chapter 2 Digital World: From Divides to Socio-Digital Inequalities
Part II: The Present: Lessons Learned about Causes and Consequences of Socio-Digital Inequalities
Chapter 3 Economic inequalities in digital societies
Chapter 4 Skills and Learning Inequalities in Digital Societies
Chapter 5 Inequalities in power and participation in digital societies
Part III: The Future: New Frontiers of Socio-Digital Inequalities
Chapter 6 Inequalities in Loneliness and Connection in Digital Societies
Chapter 7 Inequalities in Content Creation and Consumption in Digital Societies
Conclusions: Rethinking Socio-Digital Inequalities

An indispensable book for anyone interested in the causes and consequences of socio-digital inequalities. Helsper’s book brings a unique and authoritative approach; it revisits recent research in the field and uses real-world examples that help to connect abstract questions with practical problems. Academics across multiple disciplines in the social sciences should definitively consider this book as an essential guide to study socio-digital inequalities in contemporary societies.

New Media and Society
New Media and Society

I would recommend this book to everyone interested in a good overview of the emerging literature, key issues and possible solutions to socio-digital inequalities.

Anna Rohmann

Relevance to the course's topics

Dr Francesca Belotti
Humanities, University of L'Aquila
July 9, 2024

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