There is widespread concern that the growth of the Internet is exacerbating inequalities between the information rich and poor. Digital Divide examines access and use of the Internet in 179 nations world-wide. A global divide is evident between industrialized and developing societies. A social divide is apparent between rich and poor within each nation. Within the online community, evidence for a democratic divide is emerging between those who do and do not use Internet resources to engage and participate in public life. Part I outlines the theoretical debate between cyber-optimists who see the Internet as the great leveler. Part II examines the virtual political system and the way that representative institutions have responded to new opportunities on the Internet. Part III analyzes how the public has responded to these opportunities in Europe and the United States and develops the civic engagement model to explain patterns of participation via the Internet.
• The book provides the first systematic comparative study of the role of digital technologies and the growth of digital politics in 179 nations around the world • The book aims to provide a clear, well-written and original account of the role and impact of the Internet based on primary evidence • The book provides insights into the causes of inequalities in Internet access and use, including disparities among countries, within societies and within democracies
Part I. Introductory Framework: 1. The digital divide; 2. Understanding the digital divide: wired world; 3. Social inequalities; Part II. The Virtual Political System: 4. Theories of digital democracy; 5. e-governance; 6. Online parliaments; 7. Virtual parties; 8. Civic society; Part III. The Democratic Divide: 9. Cyberculture; 10. Digital engagement; 11. Conclusions: promoting digital democracy.
'Norris's worldwide comparison of 179 countries' national and political context of Internet access and use is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the problem of the digital divide because it blends together the economic aspect with socioeconomic and democratic development with a systematic framework.' Prometheus