Digital Use As a Mechanism to Accrue Economic and Symbolic Capital: A Bourdieusian Perspective

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Sabina LISSITSA , Ariel University, Israel
The digital divide is a social side effect of the information age. The technological means that enables people to band together also serves as a wall to separate and stratify populations that have access to it, and the skills required to acquire information through it, and those who do not. This study examines the "second level" digital divide, which characterizes the surfing patterns of those connected to the internet, between the Jewish majority and Arab minority in Israeli society. The goals of this paper were: to present the digital divide between these two groups; to examine the connection between digital uses and economic and symbolic capital and to characterize the link between the digital divide and social stratification.

The study is based on the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics Annual Social Survey data, collected by means of face-to-face interviews conducted in 2011 among 5,872 interviewees aged 20-65 years old.

Jews were found to have an advantage over Arabs in terms of internet access and capital-enhancing digital uses. Capital-enhancing digital uses were found to be useful for predicting between-group gaps in income level, beyond the impact of classic socio-demographic factors such as education and language proficiency. Moreover, capital-enhancing digital uses were the factor that transformed the gap in social benefits at the workplace between Jews and Arabs from significant to insignificant, after controlling for other socio-demographic and labor market variables. In addition, a positive correlation between capital-enhancing uses and occupational prestige was found. This finding indicates that the investment in digital literacy in the Arab sector in the long run may contribute to narrowing gaps on a national basis in Israeli society. However, digital technology can also serve as a mobility channel for the Arab minority group to attain social and economic equality with the Jewish majority.