Digital inequalities and why they matter

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While the field of digital inequality continues to expand in many directions, the relationship between digital inequalities and other forms of inequality has yet to be fully appreciated. This article invites social scientists in and outside the field of digital media studies to attend to digital inequality, both as a substantive problem and as a methodological concern. The authors present current research on multiple aspects of digital inequality, defined expansively in terms of access, usage, skills, and self-perceptions, as well as future lines of research. Each of the contributions makes the case that digital inequality deserves a place alongside more traditional forms of inequality in the twenty-first century pantheon of inequalities. Digital inequality should not be only the preserve of specialists but should make its way into the work of social scientists concerned with a broad range of outcomes connected to life chances and life trajectories. As we argue, the significance of digital inequalities is clear across a broad range of individual-level and macro-level domains, including life course, gender, race, and class, as well as health care, politics, economic activity, and social capital.