Just as education has promoted democracy and economic growth, the Internet has the potential to benefit society as a whole. Digital citizenship, or the ability to participate in society online, promotes social inclusion. But statistics show that significant segments of the population are still excluded from digital citizenship.
The authors of this book define digital citizens as those who are online daily. By focusing on frequent use, they reconceptualize debates about the digital divide to include both the means and the skills to participate online. They offer new evidence (drawn from recent national opinion surveys and Current Population Surveys) that technology use matters for wages and income, and for civic engagement and voting.
Digital Citizenship examines three aspects of participation in society online: economic opportunity, democratic participation, and inclusion in prevailing forms of communication. The authors find that Internet use at work increases wages, with less-educated and minority workers receiving the greatest benefit, and that Internet use is significantly related to political participation, especially among the young. The authors examine in detail the gaps in technological access among minorities and the poor and predict that this digital inequality is not likely to disappear in the near future. Public policy, they argue, must address educational and technological disparities if we are to achieve full participation and citizenship in the twenty-first century.
About the Authors
Karen Mossberger is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Public Administration, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Caroline J. Tolbert is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa.
Ramona S. McNeal is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Political Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
"Digital Citizenship examines the impact of the Internet on civic engagementand political participation. This book is a compelling and informativestudy that brings new survey evidence to bear on the power of the Internet.Through careful and detailed exploration, the authors demonstrate that theInternet brings important benefits to society and government, while thoseoutside the digital revolution suffer from the lack of access to Internettechnology."
—Darrell West, Department of Political Science, Brown University
"This is a book of impressive scope and ambition. It provides an empiricallyrich, analytically sophisticated survey of the many dimensions ofcitizenship in the digital age. The authors marshal a wide array ofevidence from multiple sources, applying it to a range of fundamentalquestions. This book is essential reading on the subject."
—Bruce Bimber, Department of Political Science, and Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara
"The digital divide affects the politics and economics of information societies throughout the globe. In this wide-ranging and carefully analyzed study, Mossberger, Tolbert and McNeal illuminate the fine-grained texture of digital access, digital skill and literacy, and, ultimately, digital citizenship. Detailed analyses of national opinion survey data and other large-scale datasets illuminate not only attitudes toward the Internet and patterns of use, but more importantly, the effects of use patterns—classified by age, race, ethnicity, income and education—for economic opportunity and civic participation. The results provide convincing concrete and deeply troubling evidence of the costs of exclusion for those with less access and fewer digital skills in information societies. By doing so, this book makes a major contribution toward integrating the study of technological and social inequalities in the United States. It is required reading for those interested in information technology and society and, more importantly, for those interested in the current state of American society, the role of public policy in the information society, and our economic future."
—Jane Fountain, Director, Center for Public Policy and Administration, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"Digital Citizenship is the clearest explanation of what it means to inhabit the modern, networked world. It is an excellent assessment of the benefits and costs that accrue from Internet use in an online society. Mossberger, Tolbert and McNeal not only rekindle debates about Internet access and digital divides, but provide new insights into the very meaning of the terms. Policymakers and scholars will do well to read Digital Citizenship closely, for it can take us to a new level of debate that can enhance our understanding of the issues, and a new level of action that can enhance and broaden the public sphere."
—Steven Jones, Department of Communication, University of Illinois, Chicago