Social Uses of Internet: Hierarchies in the Digital Life
Business Economics Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Valles), SPAIN
Garcia-Alvarez, Maria Ercilia
Business Economics Universitat Rovira i Virgili Vila-Seca (Tarragona), Spain
Economics Universitat de Girona Girona, Spain
We turn here to the anthropological view of consumption according to which social uses of technology are not random, and with an explorative technique we try to determine up to what extend the Spanish Internet usage patterns depend on the socioeconomic status of the individuals. Moreover, Bourdieu?s univorous-snob pattern of consumption for the upper scale individuals is tested against a persistent evidence of an omnivorous upscale consumption pattern supported by recent research on Spaniards? recorded music consumption habits. This approach is particularly suitable for Internet, which has a diversity of content much grater than any traditional electronic media and, literally has something to offer to everybody.
Recent evidence proved the existence of a significant gap in home Internet usage between metropolitan and rural areas as well as different usage patterns depending on socioeconomic factors like age, gender, civil status, education, position in the social strata and economic capital endowment. Identifying what people search for on the Internet ? information, employment opportunities, e-banking services, communication, entertainment, work at home, e-learning, etc. - the frequency of Internet access, the technical devices used to access Internet, and the place of Internet access are some of the questions raised here, whose answer could offer a much more complete and comprehensive characterization of the home Internet consumers? profiles and patterns.
Data come from the ?Survey about Equipment and use of ICT at home? performed by the Spanish National Statistics Institute in 2007. It included 22,197 individuals, of both genders and age 16 or older, all Spanish residents. The information is structured by regions, habitat and socioeconomic variables. We applied multiple correspondence procedures to structure the social uses of Internet and identified four generic patterns: 1) information searching; 2) communication; 3) transactions; 4) education and learning. This structure was next mapped in correlation with socioeconomic, regional and technological coordinates and the results have shown the discriminating power of these indicators. The existence of status inequalities in people?s use of technology has social effects, proving Internet?s capacity to structure the society.