Ethnic differences in internet access: The role of occupation and exposure

Gustavo S. Mesch, Ilan Talmud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Internet adoption has expanded rapidly in recent years and its use is been associated with the formation of social networks, the accumulation of social capital and a wage premium. Thus, lack of Internet access might reflect and even enlarge existing social inequalities. Considering the need for a better understanding of Internet inaccessibility, we investigated differences in access in relation to ethnicity. Presumably, in deeply divided societies, with a partial but significant overlap between ethnicity and the occupational structure, disadvantaged minorities lack digital access as they are concentrated in occupations that are not exposed to computers and the Internet. The hypotheses were tested with a representative sample of the Israeli population, a society deeply divided according to ethnic lines. Israeli Arabs proved less likely to have access to the Internet because they are concentrated in blue-collar occupations that do not involve work with computers and the Internet. Lack of exposure foments the development of negative attitudes to technology, which presumably deter them from adopting the Internet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-471
Number of pages27
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Both authors have contributed equally to the research and the writing of this manuscript. Direct all correspondence to Gustavo S. Mesch, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa, Har Hacarmel 31905. Email: This study was conducted with the support of a grant from the Israel Scientific Foundation (1014/08) to both authors.


  • Communication studies
  • Digital divide
  • Employment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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