2008 volume 40(2) pages 362 – 382
doi:10.1068/a3912

Cite as:
A Longley P, Webber R, Li C, 2008, "The UK geography of the e-society: a national classification" Environment and Planning A 40(2) 362 – 382

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The UK geography of the e-society: a national classification

Paul A Longley, Richard Webber, Chao Li

Received 23 May 2005; in revised form 8 January 2006; published online 20 July 2007

Abstract. It is simplistic to think of the impacts of new information and communication technologies (NICTs) in terms of a single ‘digital divide’, or even a small number of them. As developments in what has been termed the ‘e-society’ reach wider and more generalised audiences, so it becomes appropriate to think of digital media as having wider-ranging but differentiated impacts upon consumer transactions, information gathering, and citizen participation. This paper describes the development of a detailed, nationwide household classification based on levels of awareness of different NICTs; levels of use of NICTs; and their perceived impacts upon human capital formation and the quality of life. It discusses how multivariate classification of individuals and households makes it possible to provide a context for detailed case studies, and hence to identify how policy might best improve both the quality and degree of society’s access to NICTs. The primary focus of the paper is to describe how this bespoke classification is developed, but it also illustrates how it may be used to investigate a range of regional and subregional policy issues. As such, we illustrate how the classification provides a valuable context for study of the e-society and for people’s engagement with NICT. In more general terms, we anticipate the likely net benefits of combining the most appropriate methods, techniques, datasets, and practices that are used in the public and private sectors.

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