Building Our Own Bridges: How a Distressed Urban Neighborhood Bridges the Digital Divide

40 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2019 Last revised: 7 May 2020

See all articles by Laleah Fernandez

Laleah Fernandez

Michigan State University - Quello Center

Ruth Shillair

Michigan State University, Department of Media & Information

Bianca Reisdorf

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte - College of Arts & Sciences; Michigan State University - Quello Center

Date Written: July 26, 2019

Abstract

Prior research on digital divides and inequalities demonstrates that those who have multiple Internet access points engage in broader and more capital-enhancing online uses (Dutton & Blank, 2013, 2014; Zillien & Hargittai, 2009). These capital-enhancing uses, in turn, can serve as one mechanism to help narrow socio-economic inequities in distressed communities. This paper examines highly distressed urban communities in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Based on 525 telephone surveys of Detroit residents, this study uses a path modeling approach to examine the relationship between socio-economic variables, attitudes toward the internet, different points of access and devices, and different types of capital-enhancing Internet uses, such as e-commerce, looking for health information, reading the news and job seeking. By building on studies that identify the impact of access points on social capital and understanding online behavior as it relates to different types of devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile phones, policy makers can take steps to narrow digital divides.

Suggested Citation

Fernandez, Laleah and Shillair, Ruth and Reisdorf, Bianca, Building Our Own Bridges: How a Distressed Urban Neighborhood Bridges the Digital Divide (July 26, 2019). Quello Center Working Paper, TPRC47: The 47th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3427438 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3427438

Laleah Fernandez

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
404 Wilson Road
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

Ruth Shillair (Contact Author)

Michigan State University, Department of Media & Information ( email )

409 Communication Arts & Sciences Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

Bianca Reisdorf

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte - College of Arts & Sciences ( email )

Charlotte, NC
United States

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
404 Wilson Road
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

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