Digital Divides: Who Controls the Web?

Digital differences refer to the diverse experiences people have on the web depending on factors such as their age, gender and ethnicity. In order to explore this I will look at existing research (summarized in fig 1 below), before concluding with some thoughts on how digital differences impact the way I learn online.

dominiant groups in online spaces

Lutz, & Hoffmann, (2017) in their analysis of user’s online participation found several potential areas for a digital divide, including a split based on user participation based on political beliefs and age. Research indicated that there existed a divide between those of more extremist political beliefs espousing them online, and those of more liberal beliefs who self-censored in an effort to avoid confrontation and online bullying (Lutz, & Hoffmann 2017). Also whilst elderly people were found to want to access online spaces they lacked the technical abilities to do so (Lutz, & Hoffmann 2017).

Other studies have also looked at the web from an intersectionality perspective to see the differing experiences caused by gender, race and class (Nakamura, 2007). Studies on online spaces such as LambaM00 pointed to denial of forms of racial discourse in order to secure and reflect the values of the predominately white and middle class user base (Nakamura, 2007).

The ways in which I learn online are impacted in part by educational level and digital literacy. The University provides access to various academic resources which allow me to draw from a range of research materials to gain deeper understandings to certain topics that would be usually be hidden by academic journal paywalls. As for my economic status and country of origin, middle class, & British citizen this gives me the socio-economic ability to access the web which is largely catered towards English speaking people. Conversely people in poorer parts of India and certain other places in the World will have no ability to access the web.

Word Count: 300



FutureLearn. (2018). Page from Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

Lutz, C., & Hoffmann, C. P. (2017). The dark side of online participation: exploring non-, passive and negative participation. Information, Communication & Society, 1-22.

Nakamura, L. (2007) ‘Race in/for cyberspace: identity tourism and racial passing on the internet’ in Bell and Kennedy (Eds) The Cybercultures Reader (Second Edition only) London, Routledge.