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ERIC Number: ED469131
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Apr-2
Pages: 34
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
A Digital Divide? Class and Gender in the Computer Practices of Two Mexicano Families.
Menard-Warwick, Julia; Dabach, Dafney Blanca
The purpose of this paper is to critically re-examine the popular concept of a developing "digital divide." Based on qualitative studies of the computer practices of two Mexicano families resident in California, the paper argues with Warschauer (2001) that the "digital divide" should be seen as a continuum of varying degrees of engagement with technology. While recognizing class and gender inequalities in relation to technology, this paper proposes that there are computer users with varying degrees of literacy in relation to what they can do, rather than merely relegating them to one side of a divide. This paper is based upon comparing results from two small-scale qualitative studies, both carried out in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 2000-2001 academic year. As both families are of Mexican origin with less than ten years residence in the U.S., they represent an ethnicity popularly relegated to the "computer illiterate" side of the digital divide. However, both families own new personal computers which are used for a variety of purposes by all family members. Rather than reinforcing images of a divide, this paper demonstrates the multiple nature of computer literacies as they are practiced by individuals in particular communities. While supporting Castells' (2000) distinction between the computer practices of those who produce and those who consume knowledge, the paper questions his binary division between two types of practices corresponding to two types of people. The following questions are posed: (1) What are the varied computer practices and literacies of the Mexicano adults in these studies? In what ways do these practices and literacies correspond to social class and gender? (2) To what extent does engagement with computer technology lead to economic opportunity and social mobility for the members of these families? In what other ways is this engagement valuable and meaningful for these diverse adults? (Contains 19 references.) (AEF)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A