In discussing and planning interventions around the “digital divide” people tend to think in terms of the binary oppositions of “digital-haves” and “digital-have-nots”. Information and communications technologies (ICT) programs sponsored by governments and other agencies to address the “digital divide” also tend to be “top-down” initiatives that focus on the provision of institutional aid and the development of infrastructure. Within these approaches ICT have-nots tend to be treated as the passive receivers of aid. The agency of digital-have-nots in gaining access to ICT has been rarely examined. In this paper we report on a study that has shown that ICT use patterns amongst those with poor access and utilization of ICT is diverse and complex. Results from a survey of 495 rural-urban migrants in Beijing show that self-initiated digital transition exists among this group of people. The transition from digital-have-not to digital-have is not a one-step process but rather an incremental process with multiple stages and multiple pathways. Findings from this study will provide helpful insights for policy makers and related stakeholders when discussing and planning ICT programs and activities designed to address the issues associated with the digital divide.
Lei, Weizhen; Gibbs, Martin R.; Chang, Shanton; and Lee, Heejin, "Rethinking the Digital Divide" (2008). ACIS 2008 Proceedings. 49.