Digital Divides; Technological Apartheid

by Beauchamp Art

“Digital divides in turn rest upon growing economic and social inequality in almost every country around the globe.” [Reed, 2014: 6]

“Digital divides” may be a misleading term, due to its optimistic neutrality; what may be considered more accurate to the deliberate and politicised institutional informational and social inequality would be digital or technological apartheid. Inferring the nation-wide segregation of ethnic groups in South Africa from 1948 to 1994; though is still socially present in that, and other communities.

‘Divides’ infers impartiality, whereas ‘apartheid’ more effectively communicates the deliberate effort to maintain a segregation within “a world of digital haves and have-nots” [Reed, 2014: 4]

“It is clear that economic and social inequalities in the world are currently being replicated, and often exacerbated, by parallel inequalities in access to the Internet’s resources.” [Reed, 2014: 7]

A technological apartheid describes a societal divide based on the unequal distribution of, and access to, technologies, producing a more segregated society, that posits one group of peoples as ‘second class citizens’ against those in positions of privilege, the ‘first class citizens’; in a manner that it not controlled by the lower orders, but directed by those already in power. Making metaphorical reference to the racial segregation in South Africa from 1948-1994, those such divisions are also evident in the ghettoisation of African-America in various areas of the contemporary United States, although more in line with the Class and wealth based divisions within wealthy nations, but also between 1st and 3rd world nations.

‘Developing Nations’ is not an accurate description, as it designates one group; that of the Western nations, as the desired destination of more impoverished nations, and thereby denies the possibility for societal change/progression besides that found in the ‘fire and blood and anguish’ of Western History; as J. B. Priestly astutely observes in his play 1945 play An Inspector Calls, set in 1912 Britain, before the outbreaks of two World Wars.



Reed, Thomas V. (2014) Digitized Lives: Culture, Power and Social Change in the Internet Era. Paperback. Routledge. New York, USA.