Digital Divisions: Schools as Socializing Agents for Digital Participation

Event Date: 

Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Event Date Details: 

CITS Guest Research Lecture by Zoom, Thursday Nov 12 at Noon

Dr. Matt Rafalow

Matt Rafalow is a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley's Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society, and a social scientist at Google. His book, Digital Divisions: How Schools Create Inequality in the Tech Era, was recently published by University of Chicago Press. He is also co-author of Affinity Online: How Connection and Shared Interests Fuel Learning (NYU Press, 2018), and articles in American Journal of Sociology, Symbolic Interaction, Social Currents, and elsewhere.

What shapes how young people participate online? This talk draws on a comparative ethnographic study of three middle schools, focusing on the ways teachers differently socialize their students' expectations for digital participation by student class and race. I find that schools inculcate in students' beliefs about the benefits or costs of digital participation for their schooling. These expectations then affect how young people participate online, both in and outside of school. Mostly wealthy, white students learn from teachers that it is essential to participate online in capital-enhancing colleges. At schools for less affluent students of color, students learn from teachers that online participation is irrelevant or threatens Stratification by race and class matter for whether youth take advantage of opportunities to engage in the digital sphere.