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Digital splits: Web culture in Ljubljana and Maribor through class and cultural differentiations

Keywords: digital division , class , cultural capital , access , media consumption

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Abstract:

The paper presents an in-depth analysis of the recent ‘divide’ between the digitally rich and the digitally poor that seems to be a new source of social inequality. Based on a quantitative survey on a representative sample of residents in the two biggest Slovenian cities – Ljubljana and Maribor – the author argues that digital culture is not a space of class emancipation, but remains a sphere where the usual social, cultural and class inequalities continue to (re)emerge. While the questions of digital access, shown in three groups of motivational exclusion, intentional self-exclusion and general exclusion, is not a consequence of class divisions, the level of digital inclusion and participation in digital culture are statistically related with class structure and cultural capital. The four different groups of digital audiences – digital poor, digital sceptics, digital mainstream and digital elite – clearly repeat the general inequalities between them on the class level and show specific ways of participation in culture and media consumption. The two digitally weakest groups are on average the most excluded from other cultural practices and the lowest on the class structure, whereas the highest level of high class belongs to the digital elite. The paper therefore argues that digital culture is an intertwined social phenomenon not simply related to an individual’s socio-demographic situation, but is also strongly connected with its class and cultural capital.

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