Digital Inclusion of Low-Literate Adults: Challenging the Sequential Underpinnings of the Digital Divide
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Contemporary models of digital inclusion and the digital divide assume that developing the digital literacy that enables individuals to participate in society is a sequential and linear process that is more or less similar for all individuals in all contexts and requires basic linguistic skills. This paper challenges these understandings, arguing that such a technical, normative perspective excludes marginalized and disadvantaged publics, such as low-(digital) literate citizens. Based on a longitudinal ethnographic study of low-literate Dutch adults, we show that the often-described causal relation between (digital) literacies, (digital) participation, and (digital) inclusion is not as evident as it seems and neglects the important socio-cultural contexts through which (digital) literacies are often gained and enacted in everyday practice. Consequently, we argue that current conceptualizations of (digital) inclusion and (digital) participation need to be rethought in terms of the limitations, potential, and capabilities of low-literate people.