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PhD Defence Anique Scheerder

inevitable inequalities?! - exploring differences in internet domestication between less and highly educated families

Anique Scheerder is a PhD student in the research group Communication Science. Her supervisors are A.J.A.M. van Deursen and prof.dr. J.A.G.M. van Dijk from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS).

Since the Internet was introduced a few decades ago, utopian views of promising futures for all were put forward. Now that the Internet is integrated into our lives, it is time to take stock. Unfortunately, not all of us seem to fully benefit from the potential advantages the Internet has got to offer. It even seems that those who are already socially disadvantaged offline, also lag behind when going online, while they could benefit relatively most from the Internet. As a consequence, social disparities are likely to grow. Most studies that attempted to unravel why some benefit more from being online than others, were limited to sociodemographic explanations and mainly applied  quantitative approaches. This dissertation takes on a qualitative approach that departs from the Internet users’ social contexts, in which important clues and directions for differences in Internet outcomes might resonate. Instead of taking the individual as a point of departure, families with different compositions and educational backgrounds participated in a series of interviews to find socio-contextual explanations for why Internet users differentially benefit from being online.