Poverty and Inequality: Poverty can absolute or relative. How thresholds of poverty are defined is contentious – what are basic minimum living standards? Relative poverty is defined in terms of inequalities: the poor in a wealthy country are likely to be better off than poor in a developing country.
Information society: a society where access to and manipulation of information becomes the key determinant of one’s place in society
Industrial society: a society where position depends on social relations under capitalism
Agrarian Society: a society where position depends on feudal relations such as land ownership
Meritocracy: a social order in which each individual acquires social status on the basis on merit: skill, ability and effort, rather than gender or class. Superficially a fairer society, the notion is in reality hypothetical due to complexities of defining merit and tends to cement social position, cosigning ‘non-elite’ members of society to unfulfilling manual labor.
Technological determinism: a belief that technology develops independently of society and in so doing is the central cause of consequent social ‘impacts’. Widely challenged, nevertheless the idea is found in many historical account of social change and lies behind countless predictions of future social trends.
In this article, the author focuses on the inequality that exists among nations when it comes to access to new media. Equality of outcome tries to break the divide between the rich and the poor so that both have a greater chance of having access to digital technologies. Equality of opportunity is concerned with helping the poorest people and using policy to help them rise on the social ladder. This approach would have no effect on those that already have that access. One big problem with policy is that the more they venture into the digital world, the more they are widening the gap between those who have access to the technology and those who do not.
Ex: Accessing tax returns via internet, commercial transactions, etc.
Access to technology isn’t the only thing that will help break the divide. People have to have the willingness to want to be in the digital world and have the knowledge to use the technology. If you have access, but do not know how to use it, then there is no point in having it all.
Questions w/ Discussion:
Is this use and access of digital media that important to the society that we live in?
In my opinion, yes. We do live in a meritocratic society because we do perceive value as being able to access digital media and the way that we use it throughout our everyday lives. Those who use it more are seen as being higher up in society’s standards and those who don’t use it as over are seen as being out of the loop. In this generation, I’m not sure if poverty is a main factor in why the divide is so large. Many people just have no desire to engage in digital technology for various reasons.
Can access to new media technology create a more equal society?
I think that it would only create a more equal society if people were more open to using it. Those who grew up before the technology have very little interest in entering the digital world and see no reason to step outside of their comfort zone.
Lax, Stephen. Access Denied in the Information Age. New York: Palgrave Macmillan,, 2011.