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With a little help from my friends: An analysis of the role of social support in digital inequalities

A Research Paper by Pieter Verdegem, published by New Media and Society


This article reports an empirical study on the composition and socio-economic background of social support networks and their moderating role in explaining digital inequalities. It conceptually draws upon and empirically reaffirms Van Dijk’s multiple access model, acknowledging motivational, material, skill and usage divides, while focussing on the under-researched issue of social support as indispensible source of social learning. Besides a small group of self-reliants, the results indicate a pattern of relatively socially disadvantaged domestic support receivers, characterized by lower digital resources. A second social support pattern points to a relatively socially advantaged non-domestic support receivers (i.e. friends/colleagues), high in digital resources. Drawing upon the concept of homophily in social networks, the results indicate a link between offline and online exclusion, perpetuating digital inequalities.

Read the full text from Cédric Courtois and Pieter Verdegem >>

Pieter Verdegem


Pieter Verdegem is a Senior Lecturer in Media Theory at the University of Westminster, London. He holds a PhD in Communication Sciences (Ghent University, 2009), with a thesis on government strategies in the information society. From 2011 until early 2012 he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University, Sweden. From 2012 until August 2016 he was an Assistant Professor in New Media and ICT in the Department of Communication Sciences at Ghent University, Belgium.


13 October 2016
Published By
New Media and Society
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CAMRI | With a little help from my friends: An analysis of the role of social support in digital inequalities - CAMRI
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