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OxIS 2019: Digital Divides in Britain are Narrowing but Deepening

By Grant Blank, William H. Dutton, and Julia Lefkowitz
Cover of OxIS 2019: Digital Divides in Britain are Narrowing but Deepening

The existence of a ‘digital divide’ has been one of the key social issues of the Internet since its early diffusion at the turn of the twenty-first century. Over time, as access to the Internet has become increasingly central to everyday life, those without access to broadband infrastructures, digital devices, and Internet skills have been socially, politically and economically disadvantaged. Therefore, this report argues, critical questions remain about levels of access and skills that shape who uses and does not use the Internet, why, and what difference this makes.

The report builds on the 2019 edition of the Oxford Internet Surveys to argue that these divides remain very real. On the one hand, the divide as narrowed as internet use has grown. On the other, the divide has deepened as those who are online have markedly intensified their use. The UK’s digital divide continues to reinforce social and economic inequalities, and despite diminishing in scale, remain critical to social and economic development in the nation.

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Publication date:
January 2020

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