Claremont Colleges Library

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Book Review

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Building on their prior research on public policy and the Internet, the authors of Digital Citizenship examine the impact of the Internet on economic opportunity, civic engagement, and political participation. Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal define “digital citizens” as those who use the Internet daily and with skill. Analyzing data from Current Population Survey (CPS) and Pew Internet and American Life Project surveys, the authors find that Internet use is lowest in the section of society that would benefit most. The surveys analyzed are compiled of questions about location, education level, work, earnings, computers use, marital status, age, ethnicity, gender, and political interest. The authors contend that digital citizens benefit from increased opportunities economically and through civic and political engagement. Jobs that use the Internet as part of the work are more lucrative and available than positions without the skill. Those who are online frequently are more likely to be politically aware and drawn to civic and political involvement, thus having a voice in public policy. The authors argue that the opportunities afforded by digital citizenship are intrinsically related to U.S. conceptions of citizenship regarding equality of opportunity. Although recent federal programs were intending to bring equal technology access to the schools, the training and technological infrastructure necessary to support the programs has been inadequate if present at all. Bringing broadband access to all communities and supporting technology education in the schools is crucial if there is to be true equality of opportunity for all Americans.


This is a post-print (accepted manuscript), the published version of the review can be found at Gonzalez, A. (2008), Digital citizenship: The Internet, society, and participation. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 59: 2189–2190. doi: 10.1002/asi.20906 .

The book reviewed can be found at Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society, and Participation. Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2008: 216 pp. (ISBN: 978-0-262-13485-9)

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© 2008 ASIS&T