"Anyone with Internet access can generate online content and influence public opinion, according to popular belief. But a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the social Web is becoming more of a playground for the affluent than a digital democracy.
"Despite the proliferation of social media – with Twitter and Facebook touted as playing pivotal roles in such pro-democracy movements as the Arab Spring – the bulk of today’s blogs, websites and video-sharing sites represent the perspectives of college-educated, Web 2.0-savvy users, the study says.
“ 'Having Internet access is not enough. Even among people online, those who are digital producers are much more likely to have higher incomes and educational levels,' said Jen Schradie, a doctoral candidate in sociology at UC Berkeley and author of the study published in the May online issue of Poetics, a Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts.
"Schradie, a researcher at the campus’s Berkeley Center for New Media, analyzed data from more than 41,000 American adults surveyed between 2000 and 2008 in the Pew Internet and American Life Project. She found that college graduates are 1.5 times more likely to be bloggers than are high school graduates; twice as likely to post photos and videos and three times more likely to post an online rating or comment.
"Overall, the study found, less than 10 percent of the U.S. population is participating in most online production activities, and having a college degree is a greater predictor of who will generate publicly available online content than being young and white" (http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/06/07/digital-democracy/, accessed 0612-2011).
♦ You can watch a video presentation by Jen Schradie on The Digital Production Gap on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-029CXbeOjY