Social Inequalities, Fundamental Inequities, and Recurring of the Digital Divide: Insights from India

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Technology in Society , Volume 61 , Issue 101251 (2020)



<p>The paper uses a large scale national quantitate dataset to provide a fresh perspective on linkages between the digital divide and social inequalities in India. Commencing from two classical social theoretical perspectives – the Marxian conflict perspective and the Weberian cultural perspective – as starting points, we employed MANCOVA analysis on data of more than forty thousand households. The Marxian perspective reveals how information and communication technologies (ICT) assets come to be owned, and how they are used with the help of specific digital skills by the working class to influence labour markets and intergenerationally transfer class advantage. The Weberian perspective focuses on how ownership and use of ICT assets define an elite lifestyle which excludes others. The analysis is deepened by employing network effects approach. Results from data analysis indicate that the less educated, lower-income group, and lower caste strata are further marginalised as they neither have ICT assets nor the skills to use them. Households whose primary source of income is organised business own and use their ICT assets more than those that depend on agricultural or non-agricultural wage labour. Also, the highest adult education in a household, caste, and the primary source of income of the household differentiate ICT ownership and use. Overall, ICT ownership and usage are significantly different for different socio-economic groups in India. This linkage demonstrates how inequalities are aggravated in the manner of a Matthew Effect. The paper suggests that ICTs may end up amplifying the social inequalities in India.</p>