Marcelo Henrique De Araujo
Doctorate – Evidencing digital inequalities: analyzing the influences of autonomy of use and internet skills on harnessing online opportunities
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Nicolau Reinhard
Comission: Profs. Drs. Alexandre Fernandes Barbosa, Maria Alexandra Viegas Cortez da Cunha and Adriana Backx Noronha Viana
Class: 207, FEA-5
This doctorate thesis aims to analyze how the conditions of Internet access (autonomy of use) and sociodemographic factors (age, gender, social class and geographic area) influence the development of digital skills and how these in turn affect the harnessing of online opportunities. From the literature of the digital divide field and the theoretical lens of the corresponding fields model, a research model was developed to guide the analyzes undertaken in this research. Thus, a quantitative approach was adopted based on the microdata of the 2014 and 2016 editions of the ICT Households survey coordinated by the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (CETIC.br). The research undertaken in this doctorate thesis is contemplated in three interrelated papers for which the following multivariate statistical techniques were applied for the treatment and analysis of data: cluster analysis, binary factor analysis, binary logistic regression and multiple linear regression. The results of this research show that the simple availability of Internet access (which is the focus of policies that promote digital inclusion) is not enough to take advantage of online opportunities due to the existing digital inequalities in terms of autonomy of use and levels of digital skills. In summary, the research findings point out that individuals of higher socioeconomic status (higher social class, level of education and income) tend to access the Internet through computer and mobile devices (multiplatform) and in a greater variety of locations, consequently, reaching a greater level of autonomy of use, which tends to influence positively in the different levels of internet skills, contributing to take advantage of online opportunities of economic, social and personal domains. On the other hand, users of lower socioeconomic status tend to have a lower level of autonomy of use (connecting exclusively via mobile), potentially implying in lower levels of digital competence, leading to less harnessing of online opportunities, especially in the economic domain. These findings demonstrate that social inequalities previously existing in the social world (offline) tend to be maintained and amplified in the digital universe. In addition to allowing an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of digital divide in Brazil, such findings can contribute to the evaluation and development of public policies for digital inclusion.
*Abstract provided by the author