Paola Panarese, Vittoria Azzarita

New practices, old disparities? Online cultural participation in Italy between engagement opportunities and risks of exclusion

  • Abstract

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Keywords: cultural participation, generational cohort, digital media, digital exclusion, cultural distinction

Are digital media enablers of a wider and more diverse online cultural participation, or do they reproduce existing inequalities characteristic of offline cultural participation (i.e. varying considerably according to age, education, social position, and geographical location)? To answer this question, the present paper investigates patterns of digital media use for cultural purposes (such as creating, downloading and sharing cultural content, watching films and videos online, streaming music, and so on) across generational cohorts co-present in Italy. To explore this topic, we examine data on online cultural participation collected by the Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT) within the last edition of Leisure Time Survey-LTS (I cittadini e il tempo libero). We use multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) to provide key insights on relationships between categories. Our findings suggest that in Italy, digital media are vehicles of a wider, more diverse and democratic cultural participation among generational cohorts under certain circumstances. While the results confirm that digital media open up access to, and participation in a number of cultural activities, they also show that engagement with online cultural practices remains mostly limited to individuals with the motivations and abilities to enjoy the opportunities provided by a digitized society.

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