How can we bridge digital divides in our modern societies?

Polixeni Vassilakopoulou and Eli Hustad.

Vassilakopoulou, P., Hustad, E. Bridging Digital Divides: a Literature Review and Research Agenda for Information Systems Research. Information Systems Frontiers (2021).

Bridging digital divides is critical for sustainable digitalized societies. Digital inequalities relate to disparities in access, actual use and use efficacy of digital resources. The digital divide is an exemplary sociotechnical phenomenon and has attracted the interest of Information System (IS) researchers. This paper identifies, analyses, and integrates a critical mass of recent IS research (2010-2020) on the digital divide focused on settings where the technological infrastructures and economies are advanced.

The literature review led to the identification of recurring digital divide factors for population groups threatened by digital inequalities. The factors identified indicate that digital inequalities frequently mirror offline inequalities (for instance, in terms of socioeconomic resources, knowledge and physical abilities). The paper also presents measures proposed in the literature organizing them in three key intervention domains that can contribute to closing the gap (related to policies, training initiatives and tailored design). Building on the results, a research agenda is proposed suggesting [1] extensions of established models for digital inequalities with new variables and use of theory, [2] avenues for critically examining the effects of digital divide interventions, and [3] linking digital divide research with research on sustainability.

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