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The digital vicious cycle: Links between social disadvantage and digital exclusion in rural areas


  • Warren, Martyn


The Internet confers benefits on its users in a variety of ways, ranging from simple information acquisition and purchasing goods and services, to interacting with a range of individuals and groups in the wider processes of governance. Rural citizens stand to gain more than most, relatively, since the use of the Internet reduces, if not removes, former barriers (particularly that of distance) to such interaction. To that extent, the shrinking of the 'digital divide' (and particularly the increased availability of broadband Internet in the countryside) is very welcome. However, there is a danger that non-users of the Internet are disenfranchised by such developments, and these include some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of rural populations. There is thus a risk that, as the Internet increasingly becomes regarded as the default communication medium, a minority becomes progressively disadvantaged, first in relative and then in absolute terms. This paper explores the links between digital exclusion and social exclusion in a rural context, to identify the likely consequences of this 'digital vicious cycle', and to consider the options for ameliorating these consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Warren, Martyn, 0. "The digital vicious cycle: Links between social disadvantage and digital exclusion in rural areas," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(6-7), pages 374-388, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:telpol:v:31:y::i:6-7:p:374-388

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