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We live in an age that is highly saturated with digital technologies. These offer a range of considerable opportunities in terms of socialisation, work, entertainment, and participation in society. However, they also present risks ranging from digital exclusion, issues of privacy and financial safety through to misinformation and online abuse. There has also been an ever-growing reliance on digital technologies within our societies, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. People’s main channels of communication have now, either partly or entirely, transferred to digital services, platforms and apps. As a result, everyday life is increasingly mediated by the internet and digital devices. This might include working remotely, interacting with family and friends, using services relating to health, undertaking leisure activities, following news, or engaging in community or political activities.

These changes make it essential to ensure that different populations and groups are provided with equal opportunities to use, and benefit from the use of digital technologies. However, issues of digital exclusion and inequalities are far from resolved in our societies and, because of the pandemic, may have become more pronounced. These issues require research, policy and practical interventions that can address these inequalities. On the one hand they can ensure that the digital environment is deployed, designed and run by ‘big tech’ and government in ways that are safe, accessible, and affordable. On the other hand, they can directly support different groups, and especially the most vulnerable, to thrive in the digital age.

Indeed, the ways in which platforms and digital services are run and managed are often called into question because of issues of under-regulation and because of the affordances of digital technologies – what these do or do not enable users to do. Digital exclusion and inequalities can arise on multiple levels. In terms of infrastructure and skills – from the roll out and pricing of digital infrastructure and services through to a lack of provision of educational and skills training. Or in terms of the design of platforms and digital services. Often designed, using algorithms aimed at providing personalised content and at boosting its visibility. Though, it is now well established that algorithms potentially make it easy for issues of misinformation, polarisation, and online abuse to impact users. Very often issues of infrastructure, skills and online harms combine to further marginalise key groups or place them at greater risk.


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These challenges lie at the intersection of research policy and practice around digital inequalities, inclusion, and literacies. These are at the heart of this fourth edition of the Digital Inclusion, Policy and Research Conference (DIPRC) 2022. As part of this conference, we invite scholars and practitioners to present their latest work on these topics. Questions that are particularly relevant to the conference include but are not limited to:

- Which groups are the most vulnerable and struggle the most in terms of accessing, and/or benefitting from the use of, digital technologies?

- How should different groups be provided with the support they need in order to develop digital and data literacy skills?

- How can key groups and communities use their knowledge to help them better navigate online risks and opportunities?

- What types of policy and practical interventions are needed with a view to tackling digital inequalities and promoting digital literacy in our contemporary societies?

- How can different governments, regions, and local municipalities respond to challenges relating to digital inclusion and digital literacy?

The conference aims to focus on global, national and local developments in this area, with an emphasis on research, policy, and practice. Digital inequities have become an important part of broader persistent issues of social equity and justice.

Key themes of the conference include:

- Material and financial access to digital technologies

- Digital literacy

- Use of digital technologies by citizens and communities

- The impact of socio-economic factors on digital inclusion

- Users’ motivations to use, and attitudes towards, digital technologies

- Socio-economic and socio-cultural variations in patterns of usage.

Click here for the submission link.

Submission Guidelines

The primary aim of this conference is to link up local, national and international policy efforts to address digital inequalities, access and literacy. The intention is to support sharing best practice and research insights. The conference will be a mix of invited presentations from policy and research colleagues, along with open paper sessions.

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should be submitted by 31st May 2022.


List of Topics

For the open sessions, we seek presentations and papers that cover empirical research, as well as policy and practice interventions, on topics such as:

- Data analysis of levels of digital inclusion/exclusion and engagement

- Case studies of initiatives and programmes

- Case studies of community impact

- Studies of the impacts of digital exclusion and inequalities

-Policy interventions to address digital inequalities

- Gaps in digital and data literacy skills and knowledge

- Policy and practical interventions that aim at promoting digital and data literacy

- How digital and data literacy can be deployed to navigate online risks and opportunities and overcome issues of misinformation and privacy - Government, community and voluntary sector responses to digital literacy needs

- Digital platform use and big tech practices in relation to issues of digital inequalities and literacy

- Community responses to the digital needs of different groups.


Venue

The conference, which will take place on 20 September, and will be free to attend and held online – events will be scheduled to facilitate attendance from all time zones.


Important dates

Date for submitting abstracts: 31st May 2022

Date for announcing acceptances: end of July 2022

Date for speakers to confirm participation: mid-August 2022 at latest.