ⓘ Knowledge divide. The knowledge divide is the gap between those who can find, create, manage, process, and disseminate information or knowledge, and those who a ..


ⓘ Knowledge divide

The knowledge divide is the gap between those who can find, create, manage, process, and disseminate information or knowledge, and those who are impaired in this process. According to a 2005 UNESCO World Report, the rise in the 21st century of a global information society has resulted in the emergence of knowledge as a valuable resource, increasingly determining who has access to power and profit. The rapid dissemination of information on a potentially global scale as a result of new information media and the globally uneven ability to assimilate knowledge and information has resulted in potentially expanding gaps in knowledge between individuals and nations. The digital divide is an extension of the knowledge divide, dividing people who have access to the internet and those who do not. The knowledge divide also represents the inequalities of knowledge amongst different identities, including but nor limited to race, economic status, and gender.


1. Introduction

In the 21st century, the emergence of the knowledge society becomes pervasive. The transformations of worlds economy and of each society have a fast pace. Together with information and communication technologies ICT, these new paradigms have the power to reshape the global economy. In order to keep pace with innovations, to come up with new ideas, people need to produce and manage knowledge. This is why knowledge has become essential for all societies. While knowledge has become essential for all societies due to the growth of new technologies, the increase of mass media information continues to facilitatwe the knowledge divide between those with educational differences.


2. Between nations

According to UNESCO and the World Bank, knowledge gaps between nations may occur due to the varying degrees by which individual nations incorporate the following elements:

  • Focus on Research and Innovation: As the World Bank suggests, Research & Development within a nation can enable it to follow current developments in global knowledge and also to understand how to adapt external knowledge and technology to meet its needs. In nations with low degrees of R&D, government funding can provide a significant portion of support that can later be taken over by private investment. Closely tied to effective education systems is the need for a nation to allow for academic freedom. Because higher educational institutions are significant contributors to R&D, these institutions must be granted freedom to create and disseminate knowledge. An environment supportive of research and innovation may also help stem the "brain drain" of educated individuals from knowledge-poor nations to knowledge-rich nations.
  • Effective communication system: This will affect the dissemination of knowledge or movement of ideas within and between nations.
  • Human rights and fundamental freedoms: An absence of freedom within a society can diminish or delay the ability of its members to acquire, debate, and transmit knowledge. Vital to the spread of knowledge and information between nations are such freedoms as freedom of expression, an absence of censorship, free circulation of information, and freedom of the press.
  • Quality infrastructure: For instance, a poor electrical grid makes the existence of computer networks or of higher education institutions less attainable.
  • Plurality of knowledge and information: This includes a diverse media and the acceptance of diverse forms of knowledge.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: Closely connected to a focus on research and innovation are national and international Intellectual Property Rights. Within a nation, Intellectual Property Rights can spawn research and innovation by providing economic incentives for investing in new knowledge development. However, as stated by the World Bank, by protecting innovations, intellectual property rights may also inhibit knowledge-sharing and may prevent developing nations from benefitting from knowledge produced in other countries.
  • Effective education system: Gaps in knowledge between nations can exist when individual countries invest too little in primary school education, which acts as the base for the entire education system. According to UNESCO, in order for a nation to become a knowledge society, primary education must focus on basic literacy and must be universally accessible. However, as others have pointed out, higher education may be equally important for closing knowledge gaps between nations, particularly between newly industrialized nations, such as the Republic of Korea, and more advanced industrial societies. For the former, higher education can play an important role in bridging knowledge gaps, but must benefit more than a small elite portion of the population and must be taught at international standards. The poor development of educational institutions from a society affects the creativity of people belonging to that society.
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3. Digital divide

The term digital divide was coined in the late 20th century to refer to the gap between those who had access to those who had access to the internet and those who did not, explaining the gap between people and societies who have the ability to participate in sharing and disseminating information in the digital age and those who do not. Today, the digital divide primarily refers to the gap in the nature of internet use rather than a gap in access to it.

Technology has expanded knowledge but it has not democratized it. In other words, technology has helped bridge the digital divide but has not bridged the knowledge gap. To bridge the digital divide, beyond providing access to computers and other technologies, importance must be out on developing digital literacy to bridge the gap. Despite worldwide use of the internet, users are disproportionately concentrated in more Developed countries such as the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Democratizing knowledge requires increased access to digital technology and equipping people to make effective use out of them.


3.1. Digital divide Criticism

In the book Digital Dead End, Virginia Eubanks criticizes the way that the digital divide is generally thought of as a division between haves and have-nots, where the solution is distribution. This over-simplistic depiction obscures the fact that often social and structural inequality is at the root of the divide. According to a study done by Eubanks with women of the YWCA, the women of the community "insisted that have-nots possess many different kinds of crucial information and skills." In other words, it is not simply knowledge of the technology itself that is the issue but the structural system based on perpetuating the status quo in which the haves "hoard" knowledge.


4. The knowledge divide in gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status

First, it was noticed that a great difference exists between the North and the South rich countries vs. poor countries. The development of knowledge depends on spreading Internet and computer technology and also on the development of education in these countries. If a country has attained a higher literacy level then this will result in a higher level of knowledge. Indeed, UNESCOs report details many social issues in knowledge divide related to globalization. There was noticed a knowledge divide with respect to

  • Race: Studies have shown that although gaps in access to IT has diminished over the decades, there is still a large gap in IT use between African Americans and other racial groups. These studies have shown that there is a difference in the ways African American use the internet in comparison with other American racial groups.
  • Gender: Socio-cultural inequalities between men and women, such as unequal access to education and technology, create the conditions for unequal access to knowledge. This can cause significant knowledge gaps both within and between nations, the latter resulting from individual nations underutilization of their full knowledge workforce. A gap in the use of the internet has been discovered as well. Women are more likely to use the internet for communication, while men are more likely to use it for commerce, information, and entertainment.
  • Socioeconomic: Based on the 2008-2009 American National Election Studies panel data, research has found that socioeconomic status is most closely related to informational use of the internet than access to the internet, and the differential use of the internet between socioeconomic groups is associated with a larger knowledge gap.
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