The Oxford Internet Institute has just launched OxIS (Oxford Internet Survey), a major nationwide survey about Internet capital: its causes, its uses and its consequences.

The survey is evaluating the government’s goal of promoting greater access by examining the reasons why some people do and others do not make use of the Internet and others are proxy users or indifferent. One theory is that this is due to the existence of ‘leaders and laggards’, with some people in society being early adopters of innovations while others are late adopters. Another theory is that this is due to a digital divide separating ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’. But insofar as the ‘have-nots’ are elderly and the ‘haves’ are young people raised on mobile phones, DVDs and computers, then time should steadily erode this divide.

OxIS is linked to the World Internet Project, a collaborative set of surveys in more than 20 countries on four continents, and therefore will show how Britain rates in comparison with other countries in Europe, the United States, and the world-leading Internet users of Sweden, Japan and Singapore.

Professor William Dutton, Director of the Institute, describes the OxIS survey as an opportunity to stimulate British thinking about the political and cultural role of the Internet. In particular it will help us understand the extent to which the Internet is becoming a global means of communication amongst people who click in English but speak other languages at home and work.

OxIS is directed by Professor Richard Rose, newly appointed as Senior Fellow in Governance at the Oxford Internet Institute. He brings to OxIS knowledge gained from studying changes in British society over the decades, as well as studying social and political changes across continents as director of the Centre for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathclyde, where he co-ordinates the four-continent Global Barometer Survey network. Rose is a Fellow of the British Academy, honorary fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Social Sciences, and a World Bank consultant.

The 2003 Oxford Internet Survey has been funded by the OII, with support from the Broadcasting Standard Commission and Freeserve.

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Notes for Editors

The Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) is a random sample survey involving face-to-face interviews in approx. 2000 British households in May-July 2003. First results will be released in mid-September.