Is it the Great Equalizer? A Social Class Based Longitudinal Analysis of Technology Diffusion

Proceedings of the 31st International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), St. Louis, MI, December 12-15, 2010

11 Pages Posted: 8 May 2010 Last revised: 20 Apr 2014

See all articles by Sunil Wattal

Sunil Wattal

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems

Yili Hong

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business

Munir Mandviwalla

Temple University - Fox School of Business and Management; Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems

Date Written: May 5, 2010

Abstract

Technology in general and the Internet in particular have often been seen as the “great equalizer” in that it provides a level playing field for all individuals in the society in terms of competing for social and economic opportunities. However, technology philosophers such as Andrew Feenberg have argued that technology mirrors the existing social order. Which of these worldviews actually holds is an open question, and in this research, we try to answer it using data on adoption of multiple technologies by individuals in the US over different time periods. Our results suggest that technology diffusion largely takes place along existing social class lines, and that the arrival of newer technologies ensures that the digital divide perpetuates.

Keywords: Information technology diffusion, social classes, critical theory of technology, technology diffusion lifecycle, digital divide

Suggested Citation

Wattal, Sunil and Hong, Yili and Mandviwalla, Munir, Is it the Great Equalizer? A Social Class Based Longitudinal Analysis of Technology Diffusion (May 5, 2010). Proceedings of the 31st International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), St. Louis, MI, December 12-15, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1600526

Sunil Wattal

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

Yili Hong (Contact Author)

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-6021
United States

Munir Mandviwalla

Temple University - Fox School of Business and Management ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

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