Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why do government reports think geography is important?

All the reports in our readings this week emphasized the geographic location of the respondents, calling data sorted by geographic categories as a "critical" supplement to the service profile (1994 Falling, p2). This emphasis deserves some discussion.

For well over 100 years, US demographers have shown that place matters, and place is often a key factor in your "life chances" of education, work, and health. Similarly, the stratification model of owning/usage gaps (Norris p31) also can be viewed geographically. When factoring in your place, the normalization model fails. Those in the rural South may never have the equity of access & usage as those in the rural North, even if income and education are the same. Thus the reason for the geographic subtitle of the Falling article: "A Survey of the 'Have Nots' in Rural and Urban America". And not just rural/urban--thinking back to Norris' reading--even your global location affects your chances of access.

My question for this week is: given that all these reports suggest government intervention, would the government be discriminating by location if they concentrated our money at inner-city access problems instead of rural access? Who decides the greatest need?


  1. Sounds like a RED state, BLUE state issue. We know who would get the funding in the current political climate, although to much of RED state Amerika, that may strike them as techno welfare.

    Besides, Republicans already have the majority of those votes. Not sure Internet access is going to drive up their vote margins significantly.

  2. I think that information technology is still very much a private commodity. The government might be able to step in to start initiatives to bring access to everyone—rural or central city, but there are organizations that are manipulating what the government decides on. Where can the most money be made? There are certainly more people in the central cities. But maybe those in rural areas are more willing to adopt this new technology. It would be nice to think that the government can look at the larger picture and give aid on a universal level, but I think there are just too many outside forces controlling this outcome.