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date: 09 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article attempts to map the depth and importance of the problems at issue: first, through a review of digital divide debates at a time (2005) when in policy circles they are no longer in fashion; secondly by linking this to recent debates in political sociology and media sociology about, respectively, the declining prospects for political engagement, and the public uses of people's media consumption; and finally by reviewing competing theoretical formulations of the communicative preconditions of democracy. It suggests that all citizens require a share of a society's communicative resources if they are to participate effectively in the democratic process, and considers what form such resources should take. Arguing that ‘digital divide’ debates have pushed this issue to the centre of policy discussions the article assesses what policies might be needed to achieve improved distributive equity with respect to these resources. It provides an insight into how the communicative preconditions of democracy might be understood in the light of the growing use of ICTs.

Keywords: political engagement, media consumption, digital divide, media sociology, communicative resources, ICTs

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