Digital Divide in the Modern Megapolis: Political Aspects

Digital Divide in the Modern Megapolis:
Political Aspects

Bardin A.L.,

Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 684500 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.06.06

For citation:

Bardin A.L. Digital Divide in the Modern Megapolis: Political Aspects. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 6. P. 73-88. (In Russ.).


The article deals with the problems of new social and political divisions associated with the widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by inhabitants of megacities and city administrations. The author considers different approaches to the conceptualization of “digital divides” and to the study of their socio-political consequences, analyzes the main dimensions and levels of digital divide in the context of current socio-political processes and development trends, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and considers different approaches to overcome them in a modern megacity. Three main levels of digital divide in modern societies are identified and characterized: 1) the availability of the material basis for the use of digital technology (technical level); 2) the skills for its use by different people (social level); and 3) the real opportunities for full participation of the individual in the life of a modern “digital” society and democratic participation in political and social processes, including the realization of their civil rights and freedoms, in expanding social connections and relations (political level). It is shown that while these three “traditional” types of digital gaps – inequalities in access to ICT, in the level of digital skills and in the possibility of full participation in the political life of modern digital society – remain and grow in importance in the megacity context, their new aspects, such as access to big data sets (Big Data), the degree of dependence on automated decision-making systems (algorithms) using artificial intelligence technologies, and digital exclusion and separation on the relational level are becoming increasingly important. Some socio-political implications of the new digital divide and the associated political risks are identified. It is concluded that the measures taken to mitigate and reduce the digital divide in the modern metropolis have so far been mostly partial and palliative, with a focus on improving the material basis for the use of digital technologies rather than on overcoming the deeper sociopolitical causes and consequences of digital divisions and gaps. It is shown that policies to reduce the digital divide and digital inequality in modern megacities are particularly important because megacities are home to the most politically active populations. 

digital divide, digital inequality, political participation, social divisions, political divisions, smart city, innovation, development policy.


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Content No. 6, 2021

See also:

Bykov I.A., Hall T.E.,
Digital divide and the Internet-users political preferences in Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No5

Semenenko I.S., Lapkin V.V., Pantin V.I.,
Social Cleavages and Political Divides in a Theoretical Perspective: Criteria for Assessment and Classification. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No5

Lyublinsky V.V.,
Social policy and problems of society’s development. The western experience. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No5

Pantin V.I.,
Civilizations in modern politics: subjectness, internal divides, dynamics. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No2

Petukhov V.V.,
The generation of the «2000s»: ideological orientations and political participation. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No4



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