Emancipatory Broadband Adoption: Toward a Critical Theory of Digital Inequality in the Urban United States

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Drawing on 2 years of ethnographic research that included an engaged participant component, this article seeks to build a critical theory of technology adoption in urban communities. While the high cost of broadband Internet is undeniably an obstacle to adoption, we argue that solving the problem of cost is a necessary but not sufficient solution to the digital divide. To this end, the article contends that a community's relationship to communication technology—and their ability to see it as a political and cultural tool that can be utilized not just instrumentally, but more broadly as a way to fight poverty, inequality, and other forms of oppression—is a substantial factor leading to what we call emancipatory adoption.

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Communication, Culture and Critique

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