Digital Fusion

A Society Beyond Blind Inclusion

by Joy Pierce (Author)
©2015 Monographs XXXIV, 128 Pages


The first national recognition of disparities in access to information technologies – a digital divide – surfaced in a 1995 report by The National Telecommunication and Information Administration. Despite efforts to close the gap and promote digital inclusion, statistical data over the course of nearly 20 years indicate a significant disparity remains in poor and minority communities. In this accessible yet scholarly work, Joy Pierce illustrates the need to examine the societal status of information technologies at the micro level. Digital Fusion is a sustained and integrated project that combines more than a decade of community participatory research in two regions of the United States. Using qualitative research methods and drawing from critical cultural studies and social theory, Digital Fusion is an interdisciplinary project that engages digital literacy and social justice issues related to race, ethnicity, language, class, and education. Thought-provoking, multi-vocal, and multi-lingual narratives from racial and ethnic minorities as well as institutional administrators lay the groundwork for potential policy implications and digital infrastructure and design. Digital Fusion illuminates the complexities of digital access and use at the micro-level and offers a participatory project that seeks to co-create a digital space; one that speaks to the specific cultural, linguistic, and social needs of underrepresented communities.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword by Susan B. Kretchmer
  • Why? and Other Gaps in the Study of the Digital Divide
  • Exploring and Explicating Whys and Other Gaps in Knowledge and Understanding of the Digital Divide
  • Divides, Diversity, and Moving from Inclusion to Fusion
  • Preface
  • Digital Fusion—An Overview
  • Learning New Technology
  • The Knowledge Brokers
  • Afterword
  • Working the Net
  • Afterword
  • Chapter 1. Inside/Out: Digital Literacy and [Auto]ethnography
  • Uneasy
  • Choosing Family First
  • Afterword
  • Digital Divides/Inclusions
  • Access and assessing digital literacy
  • Speaking Out
  • Notes
  • Chapter 2. Site-Seeing: U.S. Racial Minorities Coming to New Technologies
  • The Politics of Empowerment
  • Knowledge ⇔ Resistance ⇔ Power
  • Site-Seeing
  • Seeing Sites/Uneasy Part 2
  • Afterword
  • Bridging Knowledge: Class ⇔ Race ⇔ Community
  • Notes
  • Chapter 3. Stepping into the Center: Home Computer and Internet Access
  • The Early Years and Education
  • Home Life
  • The Community Networking Initiative Computer Training Program
  • A Computer in the Home
  • The Early Years and Education
  • Home Life
  • The Community Networking Initiative Computer Training Program
  • A Computer in the Home
  • The Early Years and Education
  • Home Life
  • The Community Networking Initiative Computer Training Program
  • A Computer in the Home
  • Afterword
  • Chapter 4. Deconstructing Power ⇔ Reconstructing Knowledge: Mexican Immigrants Coming to New Technologies
  • The Power of Community
  • The City of Snow and Plenty
  • Choosing Family First: Seizing Power if not Profit
  • Come Here, Not Here, Happy Returns
  • Afterword
  • Lesson Plans and Lessons Learned
  • Fiesta
  • Afterword
  • Capital: The Knowledge Gap and Lived Experiences
  • Note
  • Chapter 5. A New Frontier: Mexican Immigrant Children Connecting Beyond the Classroom
  • Invisible Digital Natives
  • Entering the Field
  • An Inconvenient Club
  • Afterword
  • Afterword
  • Zoila
  • Afterword
  • How Did I Get Here?
  • Stepping Out and Taking Action
  • Carmen
  • Troubled Waters
  • Afterword
  • Summer Camp Computer Club
  • Jesus
  • Linda
  • Dalia
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • Chapter 6. Toward Digital Fusion
  • Bonding: I am/We are the same;i am/we are different; We Are One
  • Building Bridges
  • My Grands Come First
  • Afterword
  • Habitus and the Construction of Digital ‘Fields’
  • Digital Inclusion as Social Capital
  • Digital Fusion
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • Index

| vii →


There are so many people to thank that I know this list is incomplete. I must begin by acknowledging Jim Cultrera, Kevin DeLuca and Norman Denzin. They were—in very different yet equally important ways—instrumental in supporting, pushing and guiding me through the book writing process.

I am grateful for a community comprised of academic colleagues who read and commented on my work, participants who opened their homes and shared their everyday lives with me, and family and friends who gave words of encouragement when I needed it most. They are: Boatema Boateng, Stephanie Bor, Melanie Byrd, Donovan Conley, Janna McMahon Cotterill, Ann Darling, “Denise,” Alice Filmer, Andrea Fontana, Kelly Gates, Kristin Harrison, Leanne Hawken, Susan Kretchmer, Kimberley Mangun, Elly Maran, Cameron McCarthy, Janice Morse, Kent Ono, Kevin Pierce, Randall Pierce, Wanda Pillow, Andrea Press, Dalia Rodriguez, Helene Shugart, “Sister Alice,” “Soledad,” Erma Voss, “Wendy” and Trina Wright-Dixon.

I appreciate the support I received from the University of Illinois, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, and University of Utah. In addition, I am fortunate to have worked on this book with series editor Thomas Nakayama and Peter Lang editor, Mary Savigar. ← vii | viii →

Special thanks to Sachi, the smartest and sweetest dog I have ever known. Finally, thank you Grayson for being my greatest motivation to always do my very best.

Credits: “The Welder,” by Cherríe Moraga (1983). In C. Moraga & G. Anzaldúa (Eds.), This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color (2nd ed., pp. 219–220). Latham, New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press. Copyright by Cherríe Moraga. Reprinted with permission. Courtesy of Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries.

| ix →


Susan B. Kretchmer
President, Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide

During the 2000 National Communication Association (NCA) Annual Convention exchanges of particular note took place between communication scholars and leaders of the primary constituencies at the forefront of the effort to bridge the digital divide. That unique dialogue led to the appointment by then NCA President Jim Applegate of the NCA Task Force on the Digital Divide of which I was Co-Chair along with Rod Carveth.

As part of our work, we wrote a number of articles for various scholarly association publications, including NCA’s monthly member newsletter Spectra. Shortly after one such Spectra piece in 2001, I received an email from a doctoral student at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She explained that she had read the article and was interested in NCA’s initiative as she was writing her dissertation on the digital divide and that her work stemmed from the experience of having recently volunteered as an instructor to low-income and unemployed participants in a program to bridge the gap. She asked that I let her know how she could “contribute to not only the discussion, but more importantly, any action as well.” That doctoral student was Joy Pierce.

As Pierce completed her Ph.D., the momentum within academia and beyond to combat the digital divide grew. The NCA Task Force completed ← ix | x → its tenure at the end of 2002. To continue the important work and successful collaborations that began under the auspices of the Task Force, an independent not-for-profit organization named Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) was founded. With former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Larry Irving as Honorary Director, PPDD engages a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to spearhead a multi-associational, multi-disciplinary partnership among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to make significant contributions in closing the digital divide and addressing the many challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. PPDD reaches out beyond the communication discipline and academia to various other disciplines and groups in the U.S. and abroad who share interests, methods, and goals and want to work with PPDD to build on that common ground to find solutions to these pressing societal concerns.

For example, PPDD has been actively involved with government, policymakers, and practitioners across a broad range, including submitting a “friend-of-the-court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court to counsel on a recent case of major import for Americans’ access to the Internet in public libraries and advising the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as it developed and now implements the National Broadband Plan mandated by Congress. Moreover, in addition to programs every year at the annual NCA Convention, in May 2014 in partnership with the International Communication Association, PPDD sponsored a very large major event marking the 20th anniversary of the recognition of the digital divide through social scientific research with more than 150 digital divide expert researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from around the world, including Joy Pierce, coming together to create partnerships, inspire new ideas, and chart a course for the third decade of digital divide research, policy, and practice. ← x | xi →

Through these developments over the years, Pierce, the now Ph.D. university professor and mentor to many graduate students pursuing their interest in the digital divide, reconnected with our efforts. I was thrilled to learn that not only has she followed her passion and honed her expertise, but has also chosen to dedicate her work to exploring, illuminating, and explicating some of the most crucial issues in digital divide research, policy, and practice.


XXXIV, 128
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (July)
Intercultural studies Critical studies Social theory Digital access Technology
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XXXIV, 128 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Joy Pierce (Author)

Joy Pierce (PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at The University of Utah. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Cultural Studies - Critical Methodologies, Qualitative Inquiry and Social Identities.


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