Social inclusion and the shifting role of technology: Is age the new gender in mobile access?

  • Adams C
  • Fitch T
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Information and communication technologies (ICT) are at the heart of
government social inclusion policy. However, the ``digital divide{''}
remains and social inclusion and technology are closely linked: Not
having access to technology is often seen both as part of the
inclusion/exclusion problem and part of the solution by enabling access
to information resources through different channels. Yet, we argue that
by using technology to address all inclusion/exclusion problem, it will
also result in moving the problem from one area to another. The
arguments in this paper have been informed by two empirical studies
around a ubiquitous technology, the mobile phone. One study is primarily
based oil the 18 to 25 year old age groups; the other mostly on retired
people. The studies show clear differences between age groups and gender
in adoption and use of the mobile telephone. Social inclusion is
multifaceted; it is not an either/or measure and many attributes are
subjective and depend oil context.
Social inclusion for mobile access is also closely linked to deeply
embedded structures within society, such as those traditionally
associated with gender. Technology may be changing these structures:
indeed, age may be the new gender. The family or social unit may also be
a useful entity to consider in the exclusion debate. Technology is being
used to address social exclusion; however, we suggest that while some
leveling may result, there may also be different social exclusion fronts

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