Digital Dead End
Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age
The realities of the high-tech global economy for women and families in the United States.
The idea that technology will pave the road to prosperity has been promoted through both boom and bust. Today we are told that universal broadband access, high-tech jobs, and cutting-edge science will pull us out of our current economic downturn and move us toward social and economic equality. In Digital Dead End, Virginia Eubanks argues that to believe this is to engage in a kind of magical thinking: a technological utopia will come about simply because we want it to. This vision of the miraculous power of high-tech development is driven by flawed assumptions about race, class, and gender. The realities of the information age are more complicated, particularly for poor and working-class women and families. For them, information technology can be both a tool of liberation and a means of oppression.
But despite the inequities of the high-tech global economy, optimism and innovation flourished when Eubanks worked with a community of resourceful women living at her local YWCA. Eubanks describes a new approach to creating a broadly inclusive and empowering “technology for people,” popular technology, which entails shifting the focus from teaching technical skill to nurturing critical technological citizenship, building resources for learning, and fostering social movement.
Important Notice: The digital edition of this book is missing some of the images found in the physical edition.
HardcoverOut of Print ISBN: 9780262014984 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 27 figures, 8 tables
Paperback$19.95 T ISBN: 9780262518130 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 27 figures, 8 tables
A great backgrounder on technology-enhanced hardship...this will appeal to the technological and sociological minded alike.
Eubanks offers a critical and constructive agenda for the design of an information society where people matter.
Leslie Regan Shade
Journal of Information Policy
By presenting the experiences of a population of predominately working-class women whose perspectives are largely ignored in the debates about the impact of technology on our world, Digital Dead End argues that equity-based responses to the 'digital divide' are often misguided themselves. Any person who is working for social justice in the world of technology would benefit from reading this book.
Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and author, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing
Eubanks offers a path-breaking work that challenges the redistributive paradigm associated with many digital divide initiatives. She gets at the heart of how technology contributes to social stratification and how technological designs that are attentive to issues of social relations and power are necessary to enable and empower economically challenged groups. This is a book that all those caught up in digital advocacy should read, in order to better understand the socio-technical dynamics in which they operate.
Department of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
If we're to move forward as a society we'll need to abandon many of the platitudes and utopian musings that characterize computerization and actually start doing the work that needs doing. This is what Virginia Eubanks lays out in Digital Dead End. Is she the Jane Addams of the digital age?
author of Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution