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OxIS Workshop: The Links between Digital Disengagement and Social Exclusion

Date & Time:
14:00:00 - 17:00:00,
Thursday 4 October, 2007


This event is the first in a new series of workshops organised around the Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) 2007 Report, aiming to introduce analyses of OxIS that will stimulate discussion about key research and policy issues concerning the Internet and related ICTs. This first event focuses on discussion of the links between social and digital inclusion, drawing on an OII-CLG collaborative research project on social inclusion.

The discussion will focus on three related themes:

  • Definitions of social and digital inclusion and the related measurement and methodological issues

  • Analysis of the relationship between digital and social inclusion

  • A series of recommendations about research and policy required to progress work in this area

The event was structured around a presentations by Ewen McKinnon from the Digital Inclusion Team (Communities and Local Government Department) and by Ellen Helsper (OII). Ewen McKinnon’s presentation fcoussed on issues in policy interventions that try to tackle both social and digital exclusion. Ellen Helsper’s presentation was an in-depth discussion of the OxIS 2007 data and what they can tell about the links between social and digital exclusion. This was followed by responses from Dr Ben Anderson and Dr Mike Cushman and an open round table discussion about research and policy issues of social and digital inclusion.

What was said

It is clear that there is a relationship between social and digital exclusion, but it is unclear whether or not this is a bidirectional one.

Ellen Helsper: What is digital inclusion exactly? The argument is that (1) The use of ICTs is just as important as infrastructure (access, skills and attitudes are facilitators) and that (2) unless we really start looking at specific uses and types of engagement we will not understand how digital inclusion leads to or is linked to social inclusion.

Ben Anderson: We need models based on area level data that can help us predict what happens in such an area after an intervention or under specific conditions.

Mike Cushman: We need to look at aspirations to use, at what defines expectations. We must not forget that people influence what shapes technologies take.

Ewen McKinnon: There are lots of digital opportunities, but there is more evidence on the causal links between digital and social exclusion. The impact of past interventions will help to capitalise on these opportunities and steer future policy.

Ben Anderson: We need to look at which social outcomes we want and then work backwards to digital tools.

Mike Cushman: We cannot ignore how people live their lives- talking about social exclusion should not replace a discourse on poverty. We need to explore whose goals and purposes are inscribed in digital services. It is also important to look at the transferability of skills in highly volatile or changing environments. When we explore the relationship between social and digital exclusion we should be most concerned with involuntary not voluntary withdrawal from use of internet services.

This discussion seminar has been organised in cooperation with Communities and Local Government (CLG), in collaboration with Ofcom and the Office of National Statistics (ONS).


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  • Professor William H. Dutton,Dr Ellen J. Helsper
  • Name: Professor William H. Dutton|Dr Ellen J. Helsper|Ewen McKinnon
  • Affiliation: Oxford Internet Institute|Oxford Internet Institute|Communities and Local Government (CLG)
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