In today’s digitalising societies, digital skills give people power by affording them the opportunity to participate as active citizens. People in vulnerable positions but with good digital skills participate in society more actively than other disadvantaged people, and they do it online, argues a leading digitalisation researcher, Professor Ellen Helsper from London School of Economics.
On June 3, 2021, Helsper gave a keynote in an online research workshop on digital exclusion, an aspect of wider social inequality that is more widespread than many people realise. The workshop, titled Digital exclusion: Conceptual and methodological approaches, was organized by INEQ and the DigiIN project. The keynote was based on Helsper’s recent book The Digital Disconnect – The Social Causes and Consequences of Digital Inequalities (2021).
According to Helsper, digital exclusion is cumulative: combining factors that strengthen and maintain social inequality, also strengthen and maintain digital exclusion. People with better socio-economic status are less likely to become digitally excluded because they tend to have better access to digital tools and connections, better digital skills and generally better possibilities to have an impact in society. The state also has an important role. In countries with broader freedom of expression, digital political empowerment is stronger, Helsper argues.
You can watch the full keynote by professor Helsper in Inequality Talks.