The Secular Salvation Story of the Digital Divide

McSorley, Kevin
Ethics and information technology

Despite much discussion of thedigital divide, little academic work hasdirectly analyzed the specific political andpolicy contexts in which the concept is beingdeveloped and deployed. This paper undertakesan analysis of one such initiative, theactivity of the supranational DigitalOpportunity Task Force (DOT Force). Theanalysis provides a critical discursiveanalysis of the final report of the DOT Force,together with thick description of theprocesses by which it was produced. Theresolution of numerous antagonisms between theparticipants in the narrative of the finalreport reflects the field of power in which theDOT Force operates. The issue of the digitaldivide can be best understood as providing agenerative resource through which the variouspolitical interests represented in the DOTForce process can normatively reconfigure theconceptual and ethical possibilities itsignifies to renew a dominant, singular'secular salvation story' of the global. Thespecific closure, articulation and legitimationof the digital divide instantiates anaction-oriented temporality and a transformedmoral agenda, from a concern with inequality toa pressing inclusionary imperative to connectwith the promise of technology and development.