Globalization and technology divides: Bifurcation of policy between the "digital Divide" and the "innovation Divide"

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The global diffusion of digital technology, which occurred more rapidly than the global diffusion of any technology previously, has been mired by its uneven distribution across, and unequal effects on, societies worldwide. In addition, policy initiatives to close this global digital divide, which peaked with the two World Summit on Information Society conferences, still did not change the course of this differentiated globalization process. In this article, I attribute the cause of such stalling of policy on the issue of the global digital divide to the bifurcation of current international policy: attention is split between concern for the impeded access of the poor to this revolutionary technology, on the one hand, and the race to lead the world in creating the next "hot" technology, on the other. These two concerns, which have been given the pithy titles of the "global digital divide" and the "global innovation divide," are leading to two separate policy tracks, targeting the world's laggards and leaders as separate entities and operating under separate logics. This separation is problematic because the issues of access to technology and ownership of rights to technology are intertwined. This article describes the two global technology divides and analyzes the policies that are currently charted to address them.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)63-91
Number of pages29
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


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