Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Matthew Damon Wright (2012) The Digital Divide and Cultural Capital, A Thesis Presented to the faculty of the Department of Sociology California State University, Sacramento, Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology

The digital divide, the concept of an inequality in computer and Internet access and skills, has been a political and social scientific topic of research and debate. The prior analyses of Internet use grouped people based on “haves” and “have-nots” and did not specifically address who these people were and what kind of demographic, individual, and family characteristics might promote digital literacy. By combining the ideas of the digital divide in the usage of the Internet and the concept of cultural capital as a marker of socioeconomic status, this study used data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project 2008 to test whether higher socioeconomic status (using measures of education and income) is associated with more frequent use of the Internet. An exploratory subsample analysis by gender was also conducted. As previous studies have found, education plays a significant role in predicting higher Internet use. Counter to previous studies, income was the only significant predictor for overall frequency of Internet use and of specific types of Internet activities. The study also found that gender conditioned the effects of socioeconomic status, family, and work on Internet use.

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