The term digital divide entered the American vocabulary in the mid-1990s to refer to unequal access to information technology. However, public debate has addressed the digital divide as a technical issue rather than as a reflection of broader social problems. In this article, Jennifer Light critically analyzes how access to technology is constructed as a social problem and examines the particular assumptions about technology and inequality that frame the debate. Drawing on historical examples, Light examines why hopes that technology would improve society have often not been fulfilled. The author examines the striking asymmetries between the current and earlier debates about the relationship between technology and society. She invites us to consider the different ways in which the problem of access to technology has been constructed, and suggests that these differences may generate ways to enrich the current debate and begin a conversation about more robust solutions. (pp. 710–734)
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