Application of an Integral Methodological Approach to Measuring the Dynamics of the Basic Digital Divide

Vesna Dolničar


The paper illustrates that, when analysing the dynamics of the digital divide, the answer to the seemingly simple question ‘Is the digital divide increasing, decreasing, or is it constant?’ is not straightforward. An integral methodological tool that comprehensively addresses this question will be introduced. This methodological approach is based on the assumption that none of the existing statistical measures truly communicates the essence of a certain digital divide phenomenon (absolute measures, relative measures and S-time-distance are considered). In addition, even the simultaneous reporting of all three measures is insufficient. To monitor and interpret the dynamics of the digital divide it is therefore very important to explicitly take into account future scenarios of ICT diffusion among the observed subjects (e.g. population segments, countries…). We have developed these scenarios within the broad framework of the diffusion theory (Rogers, 1962, 2003), but with a distance from two of its implicit assumptions related to the deterministic conceptualisation of the diffusion process: the form of the diffusion function and the anticipated level of the final penetration rate. It is argued that the proper measure can only be provided if we anticipate and take into account the full distribution functions of the compared subjects or population segments and the location of the subject at a certain point in time.


digital divide, dynamics, ICT diffusion, statistics

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