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Variable geometries of connection: Urban digital divides and the uses of information technology,”

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tracey Crosbie, Professor Stephen Graham



This paper proposes a new way of conceptualising urban 'digital divides'. It focuses on the ways in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) unevenly affect the pace of life within the urban environment. Based on a detailed case study of how ICTs are being used in an affluent and a marginalised neighbourhood in Newcastle upon Tyne, the paper suggests that urban digital divides need to be understood as more than uneven patterns of access. They emerge in this work as more than the presence or absence of specific technological artefacts. Rather, it is argued that different styles and speeds of technologically mediated life now work to define urban socio-spatial inequalities. The paper distinguishes between two such key styles and speeds. First, the paper argues that affluent and professional groups now use new media technologies pervasively and continuously as the 'background' infrastructure to sustain privileged and intensely distanciated, but time-stressed, lifestyles. Secondly, more marginalised neighbourhoods tend to be characterised by instrumental and episodic ICT usage patterns which are often collectively organised through strong neighbourhood ties. For the former, mediated networks help to orchestrate neighbourhood ties; for the latter, it is those neighbourhood ties that enable on-line access.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Crang M, Crosbie T, Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2006

Volume: 43

Issue: 13

Pages: 2551-2570

Print publication date: 01/01/2006

Date deposited: 25/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1080/00420980600970664


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