Category: Analysis

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Review of Literature

The growing use of computer technologies is raising numerous social and cultural questions, one of them being that of social and wage inequality. The relationship between computer technologies and social inequality is very complex. On the one hand, computers bring people together and unite them around their core values. On the other hand, not everyone has enough financial and skill capacity to benefit from the use of computers. The current state of research offers different opinions as to the relation of technological innovations to social inequality. Apparently, the state needs to develop broad technological policies to provide computer technologies and training, because access to computers alone cannot guarantee that individuals can use these technologies for their own and society's benefit.


The relationship between computer technologies and social inequality, including wage inequality, is one of the most popular topics in contemporary research. Despite the growing body of literature, not everyone agrees that computer technologies increase the social and income gaps. An emerging consensus is that "while some of the early rise in inequality may have been due to rapid technological change, […] the increase in the early 1980s is largely explained by other plausible – albeit relatively mundane – factors" (Card & Dinardo, 2002, p.48). At the same time, many researchers agree that the social inequality in computer technologies does exist, and only broad state policies can help address this problem.

According to Aghion, Howitt and Violante (2002), computer technologies increase production efficiencies and replace the workers, whose skills are no longer needed. In this situation, individuals who have advanced computer skills have better chances to adjust to the changing conditions of digital performance (Aghion et al., 2002). These assumptions are further supported by Haan (2003), who claims that the skills gap between the early and late computer adopters cuts across the existing social inequalities. Therefore, it is not computers but skills that play a crucial role in closing the existing social divide, and modern researchers are widely supportive of this claim. Greenwood (1999) writes that skills greatly facilitate the adoption of new technologies. Eamon (2004) claims that only skilled students and workers can expand computers' learning and workplace potentials. Steelman and Weinberg (2005) are confident that increased emphasis on skills acquisition and education is the best response to computer-generated social inequality. Based on Attewell (2001), it is naïve to expect that the provision of computer technologies will automatically eliminate the risks of the second digital divide. All these findings suggest that state policies should provide both computer technologies and training, to ensure that these technologies are used properly and for the society's benefit.   

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