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The emergence of a digital underclass: digital policies in the UK and evidence for inclusion

By Ellen Helsper

Abstract

New evidence shows that a digital underclass is forming in Britain. Although there is some improvement in access, skills and use of the internet among those who have lower education levels and no employment, these groups remain far behind other groups. As the government plans to make public services ‘digital by default’ these individuals will be unable to access them, not because of a lack of infrastructure but because of a lack of (effective) take up of the available connections. Exclusion of these most vulnerable groups has become entrenched. Gaps based on education and employment persist independent of age or other characteristics. They therefore represent a problem that is unlikely to go away even with better infrastructure or as younger generations grow up. These individuals are those that rely most on the government services that are now becoming ‘digital by default’ and will continue to do so. Those who need access to services most, from where the biggest cost savings through the digitisation of services are supposed to come, are the least likely to take these up even when access is available

Topics: HT Communities. Classes. Races, JN101 Great Britain, QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Publisher: Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:38615
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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