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Technology in general and the Internet in particular have often been seen as the "great equalizer" in that it provides a level playing field for all individuals in the society in terms of competing for social and economic opportunities. However, technology philosophers such as Andrew Feenberg have argued that technology diffusion mirrors the existing social order. Which of these worldviews actually holds is an open question, and in this research, we try to answer it using data on adoption of multiple technologies by individuals in the US over different time periods. Our results suggest that technology diffusion largely takes place along existing social class lines, and that the arrival of newer technologies ensures that the digital divide perpetuates.
Date of Conference: 4-7 Jan. 2011