Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Social Origins, Social Statuses and Home Computer Access and Use

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Social Origins, Social Statuses and Home Computer Access and Use

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper assesses the effects of social origins as well as individual level socio-economic statuses on respondents' access to and use of home microcomputers in Canada. The study shows members of lower class origins and individuals in lower socio-economic statuses owning and using a home computer to a significantly lesser extent than those from higher social origins and individual statuses. Much of social origin effects are mediated through respondents' socio-economic statuses, particularly education. Respondents' education, consistent with previous research, is the best predictor of home computer access and use. Moreover, the analyses lend support to Bourdieu's view that upper classes are able to reproduce themselves by adopting computer technology as part of their strategy of reproduction. However, there is little support for Bourdieu's view that there has been a recent shift in the reproduction strategy of the upper and middle classes.

Resume: Cette etude examine les repercussions de l'origine sociale, ainsi que du statut socio-economique de l'individu sur la disponibilite et l'utilisation que font les repondants, au Canada, d'un ordinateur a domicile. L'etude indique que les membres de classes inferieures et les personnes ayant un statut socio-economique moins eleve, ont beaucoup moins tendance a posseder et a utiliser un ordinateur a la maison que les repondants d'origine sociale et de statut individuel plus eleves. Bon nombre des consequences de l'origine sociale se produisent par l'intermediare du statut socio-economique et surtout, par le biais de l'education. Confirmant les resultats de recherches anterieures, l'etude revele que l'education du repondant est l'element permettant de mieux predire la disponibilite et l'utilisation d'un ordinateur a la maison. En outre, les analyses appuient le point de vue de Bourdieu; ce dernier affirme que les classes superieures parviennent a se reproduire en adoptant, comme partie integrante de leur strategie de reproduction, la technology de l'informatique. Par ailleurs, on a vu tres peu de preuves a l'appui des idees de Bourdieu concernant une reorientation recente de la strategie de reproduction des classes moyenne et superieure.

Introduction

Canadians are avid adopters of communication technologies. In 1996, 98.7% of Canadian households owned telephones, 74% subscribed to cable (one of the highest proportions of any western nation), and 31.6% had a home computer, with about half of this latter group owning both a computer and modem (Statistics Canada, 1996). However, despite widespread diffusion of the new technology, recent research indicates that home computer ownership varies significantly amongst different income and educational categories. For example, in 1995, 50.3% of Canadians with an household income of $63K or more owned a home computer compared with just 12.3% of those households earning $21.4K or less. In terms of the education of the household head, the inequality was more extreme -- 55.6% home computer ownership amongst households where the head had a university degree compared with 9.1% in households where the head had a less than grade 9 education (Dickinson and Sciadas, 1996: 79, 81). Typically, as in the instance of once new communication technologies such as the telephone (see, for example, Pike, 1989), the early diffusion of these relatively new technologies is very unequal.

In contrast to many other countries, there have been no in-depth Canadian studies which explore the extent of, and factors associated with, inequalities in home computer access and use. However, even in the non-Canadian research, much of the focus is upon samples of young people. Less is known about the general populations, or the causal interrelationships of various variables (see Dutton et al., 1987a, 1989 for a review). More particularly, to our knowledge, there is no research that evaluates the effects of social origins on adult offspring's access to and use of the microcomputer in Canada and elsewhere. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.