Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age, by Virginia Eubanks. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. 232 pp. $28.00 / £19.95 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-262-01498-4
David Nemer, Indiana University
School of Informatics and Computing
In recent years, Brazilian policy has been informed by a techno-enthusiastic vision, as in the idea that access to using digital technologies (DTs) is a right of citizenship in the information age. Consequently, a number of programs have been instituted to promote access to DT use and decrease a perceived “digital divide.” However, numerous scholars have disputed such technological deterministic visions, which presume that mere access to DTs is sufficient to promote digital inclusion which in turn leads to social and economic transformation. They argue that such approaches simply reflect pre-existing social divides and, sometime, even widen them. David Nemmer’s research investigates Brazil’s access to DTs programs critically—how in practice they entail both potential and pitfalls. He is particularly concerned to illuminate the complex relationship between digital and social inclusion—whether such programs actually lead to social inclusion of the marginalized, if so, how, and in which dimensions (health, education, democracy, financial, etc.). His method is qualitative exploration of LAN Houses and state-supported Telecentros located inside slums and low-income neighborhoods in the city of Vitoria.