Race and the Digital: Racial Formation and 21st Century Technologies


Related readings for analysis:
            (1.) In Digital inequalities and why they matter, by Laura Robinson, Shelia R. Cotton, Hiroshi Ono, Anabel Quan-Haase, Gustavo Mesch, Wenhong Chen, Jeremy Schulz, Timothy M. Hale & Michael J. Stern (2015), the authors create a correlation between the evolving of society and the new forms of inequality that surface. Robinson et al., (2015) mentions that of the new forms of inequality that are surfacing, digital inequality is one of them. It is recognized within the article that the digital inequalities are composed of race, gender, and socio-economic status which all can also be used as determinants of Internet usage and proficiency. As a reader of this article, it was shocking to me to come to the realization that there are different Internet/media proficiency rates among the different races, and how this creates a barrier between them. Digital inequalities that are being created online, unfortunately continue the social inequalities that exist offline. This article as well obtains its own statistical data that demonstrates how the digital divide creates a toll on people of different races and gender in the outside social world, such as by trying to obtain a job. Although the digital divide can socially hurt people of different demographics, it can also be helpful. The authors within the article introduce a hypothesis by the name of normalization/diversification hypothesis that states that individuals can transform their social networks and social capital by assessing online networks. This is indeed a new method allowing people to make their way in their social world, but how about those that do not have access to such online networks? Instagram definitely allows its users to socialize with other users that they “follow.” Instagram is a leisure Web service/phone app, but it has been well-known that popular users on Instagram are able to make careers for themselves using the application, such as make-up artists or singers. The digital divide increases, however, when those with limited or no Internet access are not able to experience such advantages to such a Web service, along other beneficial Web services.
          (2.) In The participation divide: Content creation and sharing in the digital age by Eszter Harigittai & Gina Walejko (2008), they introduce something called the participation gap or the participation divide, which is the division that exists between those individuals who post their information on the web and those who do not. Although this article mainly discusses the correlation of a child’s online creativity and their parents’ schooling, it discusses one of the important demographic components being socioeconomic status that creates such a correlation. The article also shows the other demographic components at play such as gender and race, and who engages in what more online (such as Asian Americans writing poetry more than the other races and sharing it online). Today such online usage is a factor in a child’s education, as our school systems are becoming more tech-savvy and allow students to explore what they are “good at” within the classrooms. But a child who does not obtain a personal computer with Internet use cannot continue to enhance or explore their online capabilities. Although this was not stated within the article, it is a personal observation, as a reader, that I have made. Instagram may be a photo sharing web service, but it can be seen as a resource of enhancing an individual’s creativity with photography, as is mentioned within the article. As the article’s data indicates, it is those with parents who have a higher education and a higher socioeconomic status that benefit from such technology resources, which as most of us can guess is the Caucasian population. Looking back at the Instagram users’ demographics, it was those that had only “some college” and a $30,000 annual household income that mostly utilized Instagram. A person could then conclude that those with lower education and a lower annual income, are once again not experiencing the advantages of Instagram, or according to this article not articulating their creativity via photographs.

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