Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Technology and Soical Inclusion

Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide by Mark Warschauer seeks to refocus the arguments on the digital divide away from a simplistic have/have-nots explanation. Warschauer understands ICTs as well as access to be embedded in society and dependent on a number of different kinds of resources rather than an isolated aspect of a society. In the introduction, he outlines the shortcomings he sees in using the digital divide as a framework, instead Warschauer proposes social inclusion as an alternative. The next two chapters he provides an historical overview of technology and social inclusion as well as the theoretical framework of his argument. Warschauer explores four types of resources (physical, digital, human, and social) that must be present in order to create more equitable access and inclusion. A good overview of Warschauer's argument is “the starting point for a progressive consideration of ICT in any institution should not be the digital divide...but rather the broader social structures and functions of the institutions and how ICT might be used to help make them more democratic, equitable, and socially inclusive” (209).

One of the greatest strengths of Warschauer's book is the diversity of resources, research, and examples used to illustrate his points. He uses data from his own research in India, China, Brasil, Egypt, and the US as well as drawing in studies from countries all around the world, thus allowing him to engage the links between social inclusion and technology in multiple contexts with a vast array of resources. This book did come out in 2004, but I feel it has remained a compelling argument for the expansion and redefinition of the digital divide.


  1. I was just curious as to how much he focuses on differing public education standards as a cause?

  2. I was wondering how you felt about Warschauer's framework using social inclusion and the four types of resources. Do you think the focus should be on all four types or perhaps would it be better or more realistic to focus on one or two?

  3. Sara,

    I don't remember reading anything specific about differing public education standards, but I am also not really familiar with the public education system. Would you mind explaining more about what you would like to know, just so I am clear? Thanks.

  4. Richard,

    I feel like for Warschauer these four resources are interconnected and each resource is necessary for social inclusion, but that he doesn't expect any one organization to be able to provide or create all of the necessary resources. As an overview of his broader theoretical framework and understanding of technology and social inclusion, the book needed to explore all four. I think that even beginning to think about technology in this broader way will be helpful in creating successful programs that are more tailored to a specific area as well as promote programs that more collaborative and interactive. For any organization or government, focusing on one or two of the resources will be a plenty big enough task, I think. Hopefully though, as Warschauer noted through his many examples, different organizations and institutions have begun to address different parts of the problem and some groups are beginning to integrate more of the resources into the different stages of planning and implementing technology programs.

    Hopefully that helped answer your question. Please let me know if something was unclear or I didn't quite answer your question.