Bardin Andrey
The Digital Divide in the Modern Megalopolis: Political Dimension // Social Sciences : A Quarterly Journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 2021. Vol. 52, Issue 4. P. 80-95. DOI 10.21557/SSC.72349731.
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DOI 10.21557/SSC.72349731

This article deals with the problems of new social and political divisions associated with the widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by inhabitants of megacities and city administrations. The author considers different approaches to the conceptualization of "digital divides" and to the study of their sociopolitical consequences, analyzes the main dimensions and levels of the digital divide in the context of current sociopolitical processes and development trends, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and considers different approaches to overcoming them in a modern megacity. Three main levels of the digital divide in modern societies are identified and characterized: (1) the availability of the material basis for the use of digital technology (technical level); (2) the skills for its use by various people (social level); and (3) actual opportunities for the full participation of the individual in the life of a modern "digital" society and democratic participation in political and social processes, including the exercise of their civil rights and freedoms, in expanding social connections and relations (the political level). It is shown that while these three "traditional" types of digital gaps-inequalities in access to ICT, in the level of digital skills and the possibility of full participation in the political life of the modern digital society-remain and grow in importance in the megacity context, their new aspects, such as access to big data sets, the degree of dependence on automated decision-making systems (algorithms) using artificial intelligence technologies, and digital exclusion and separation on the relational level are becoming increasingly important. Some sociopolitical implications of the new digital divide and associated political risks are identified. It is concluded that the measures taken to mitigate and reduce the digital divide in the modern metropolis have so far been mostly partial and palliative, with a focus on improving the material basis for the use of digital technologies rather than on overcoming the deeper sociopolitical causes and consequences of digital divisions and gaps.


Keywords: ICT | COVID-19 pandemic |



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