The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Mossberger, Tolbert, Jimenez, Bowen: Unraveling Different Barriers to Technology Use: Urban Residents and Neighborhood Effects


Mossberger, K., University of Illinois at Chicago


The success of the new national broadband plan and federal policy require understanding barriers to broadband adoption. While current federal programs have invested heavily in rural infrastructure, significant disparities remain in urban areas, where broadband networks are available. Multilevel analysis of a random sample telephone survey in the city of Chicago demonstrates that barriers to technology access vary across neighborhood contexts and demographic groups. We show that neighborhood-level factors such as concentrated poverty influence the reasons why residents do not have home access, as well as individual-level factors. There are differences in barriers for African-Americans and Latinos as well. Place effects need to be taken into account in further research and theory on technology inequality, and in public policy as well. Targeted policies to address underserved urban areas demand attention, beyond broadband infrastructure for rural areas.

Karen Mossberger, Caroline Tolbert, Benedict Jimenez, Daniel Bowen