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Digital Fusion

A Society Beyond Blind Inclusion


Joy Pierce

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.
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Chapter 4. Deconstructing Power ⇔ Reconstructing Knowledge: Mexican Immigrants Coming to New Technologies


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Mexican Immigrants Coming to New Technologies

The Power of Community

The Community Networking Initiative (CNI), an adult computer literacy program designed to teach computer skills and provide a free computer and one-year Internet subscription, prepared me for the second phase of my research. I learned through four years of participant observation and more than 30 interviews that participants’ primary motivation to learn to use a computer and gain access to the Internet was their family. Digital Literacy programs such as the one described in the previous chapter indicate that under- and uneducated adults who come to new information technologies are driven by their desire to connect with their children (Pierce, 2006) and provide technologies that will help their families gain social, cultural and economic capital (Chen and Choi, 2011; Eynon and Helsper, 2010; Pierce, 2006, 2010). Mothers and fathers wanted to give their children the privilege of a computer and Internet connection in the home. The adults were less concerned about their own use and knowledge of computer hardware and software. This population’s interpretation of home computer ownership and Internet access exposed why the knowledge gap between the poor and wealthy, un-/under-educated and educated continued to grow well into the 21st century. ← 49 | 50 →

A Pew Research Center study (Fox & Livingston, 2007) reports that Mexicans are the largest national-origin group in the U.S. Latino/a population yet are the least likely group...

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