Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Cultural Centrality and Information and Communication Technology among Canadian Youth

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Cultural Centrality and Information and Communication Technology among Canadian Youth

Article excerpt

Abstract. This paper examines the positions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis (FNIM) peoples, and visible minorities as distances from the cultural "centre" of White European culture. It then assesses the relation of information and communication technology (ICT) to these locations among Canadian youth using three data sets: the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, the 2000 Youth in Transition Survey (older cohort) and its 2002 follow-up, and a 2004-2005 survey collected by the authors. Findings indicate that the idea of cultural centrality is useful in locating FNIM groups and visible minorities vis-a-vis the cultural centre and each other and highlighting the stratified heterogeneity of these groups. Access to, use of, and development of ICT skills tend to mirror the relative positions of these groups in terms of cultural centrality. Further, youth who retain close ties with traditional culture are less likely to develop facility with ICT.

Resume. Cet article examine les positions des Premieres nations, des Inuits et des Metis (FNIM) et des minorites visibles comme etant distancies du << centre >> culturel de la culture des Europeens blancs. L'article evalue ensuite la relation entre les technologies de l'information et des communications (TIC) et ces endroits chez les jeunes Canadiens, au moyen de trois ensembles de donnees: l'Enquete aupres des peuples autochtones de 2001, l'Enquete aupres des jeunes en transition de 2000 (cohorte plus agee) et le suivi de 2002, ainsi qu'une enquete faite par les auteurs en 2004-2005. Les conclusions revelent que l'idee d'une centralite culturelle est utile pour situer les groupes FNIM et les minorites visibles par rapport au centre culturel et l'un a l'autre, et pour souligner l'homogeneite stratifiee de ces groupes. L'acces aux competences en TIC, leur utilisation et leur developpement a tendance a refleter les positions relatives de ces groupes en termes de centralite culturelle. De plus, il est moins improbable que les jeunes qui conservent des liens etroits avec la culture traditionnelle developpent des capacites en TIC.

INTRODUCTION

Incredible investments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have been expended by governments, communities, families and individuals. Underpinning these investments, governments stress the importance and potential payoff of ICT in a more and more global and information based society. Reflecting this focus on ICTs, Graham (2002:36) argues that

   the explosion in the use of ICTs overwhelmingly represents an
   extraordinary extension in the social, economic, cultural and
   geographical powers of those groups and organisations who are best
   connected, most highly skilled and most able to organise and
   configure the shift on-line to their own advantage.

Parents also believe that ICT plays an essential role in their children's future life chances. About 90 percent of parents in the United States report that ICT will improve their children's academic performance (Turow and Nir 2000) and accordingly invest in home ICT resources (Lenhart 2003). Canadian research shows similar results (Ipsos-Reid 2005). We agree with Bourdieu that many behaviours of parents can be understood as dynamics of status reproduction (Bourdieu and Boltanski 1978:214). We see ICT as a form of capital which, like other forms of capital, can be converted into other desired outcomes such as employment.

This paper examines the effect of investments in access to, use of, and facility with ICT for cultural and racial groups within Canada. Canada officially recognizes three aboriginal groups: Inuit, North American Indian, and Metis. We use the term First Nations (FN) when specifically referring to North American Indians, the acronym FNIM when speaking collectively of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis, and the term "population groups" to refer to groups defined by their racial or ethnic identities.

This examination will identity the extent of any "digital divide" based on race and culture. …

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