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Digital exclusion and poverty in the UK: How structural inequality shapes experiences of getting online

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Holmes, Hannah 
Burgess, Gemma 


Digital exclusion and poverty are understood to be closely linked, and existing literature on the topic makes clear that the contexts of people's lives shape their experiences of digital exclusion in important ways. Indeed, the online and offline aspects of life are in many regards inextricable. As such, this paper focuses on the complex relationship between digital exclusion and poverty, and examines how a range of spatial, material, and temporal factors related to experiences of poverty shape opportunities to use the internet. Drawing upon qualitative data from interviews with coaches and participants in a programme which seeks to help low-income people find work, manage their money, and get online, the paper traces several key ways in which different aspects of poverty – including housing inequality – coalesce to shape experiences of digital exclusion. In doing so, the paper argues that examining the ways in which these seemingly offline aspects of poverty affect opportunities to use the internet provides an opportunity to enhance understandings of exactly how digital exclusion is manifested for those experiencing poverty.



4406 Human Geography, 44 Human Society, 1 Underpinning research, 1.2 Psychological and socioeconomic processes, Generic health relevance, 10 Reduced Inequalities, 1 No Poverty

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Digital Geography and Society

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Elsevier BV
This research is funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Fund (grant number G100969) and the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund via New Horizons (grant number RG84311).