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Workshop: Probing the Digital Equity and Justice Research ICA June 2022 - Paris

BLUE SKY WORKSHOP: Looking Back, Sideways and Forward: Probing the Relevance of Digital Equity and Justice Research in “A Networked World”


This Blue Sky Workshop will build on the ICA22 conference theme which invites scholarship that problematizes the notion that people and organizations are increasingly interconnected through a single, global network. The organizers of this workshop interrogate this notion through the lenses of global digital equity and social justice. Research and theorization about the links between social and digital inequalities has developed immensely over the last decades.

The workshop will engage scholars in blue skies thinking around three core questions:

1) If, as the theorization and research suggests, differences in economic, social and cultural capital continue to shape opportunities for access to and participation in online networks, can we truly speak about the “one-ness” of networks across individuals, communities or nation-states? On the other hand, is the widely used ‘deepening divides’ framework ignoring commonalities in access to and engagement with global networks?

2) Are current theorizations about communication networks and globalization able to capture differences in opportunities, practices and outcomes along geographical, socio-economic, age, education, gendered, racial, and ethnic lines without sacrificing generalizability and contextuality?

3) What can historical and contemporary theorizations of global communication networks and North-South inequality offer to new scholarship about emerging technologies? For example, how can they inform studies about algorithmic bias, IoT and the gig economy?

This blue-sky workshop invites scholars whose research agenda intersects with questions of digital equity and social justice to take stock of the state of the field, and explore new frontiers in theories, methods and scholarly practices. The organizers represent both the breadth and the depth of the field in terms of disciplinary background, geographical representation, nationality, methods and specific domains of interest, with a strong representation of scholars based and/or working in the Global South.

The workshop will organize the open discussion and experience sharing in three thematic blocks, examining the applicability of existing theoretical explanations for (in)equity and (in)justice around:

- infrastructure and access to digital (social) networks across different economic, cultural, and geographical contexts through the sharing and examination of empirical research findings.

- participation in and experiences of digital (social) networks across different economic, cultural and geographical contexts, through the sharing and examination of empirical research findings.

- opportunities and outcomes related to access to and participation in networks in a future where technologies become invisible, embedded and integrated into everyday objects and experiences.

Organisers: Alexander Van Deursen (University of Twente), Ellen Helsper (The London School of Economics & Political Science), Fabio Senne (University of São Paulo), Fahed Al-Sumait (Gulf U for Science and Technology), François Bar (U of Southern California), Jack Qiu (National U of Singapore), Hernan Galperin (U of Southern California), Stefano DeMarco (Universidad de Salamanca), and Teresa Correa (Diego Portales U).