Technological Socialization and Digital Inclusion: Understanding Digital Literacy Biographies among Young People in Madrid

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The main goal of this article is to analyze young people’s technological socialization experiences to build a comprehensive model of the distinctive digital literacies interwoven with their biographies. Considering that digital accessibility is a necessary but not sufficient condition for inclusion, we identify which types of digital literacies are linked to the acquisition of digital competencies, confidence, and dispositions towards the incorporation of ICTs into daily activities; on the other hand, we also identify digital literacies that might engender motivated processes of self-exclusion from the digital realm, therefore reinforcing subjects’ digital exclusion. Methodologically, this article is based on 30 in-depth biographically-oriented qualitative interviews with young people living in the region of Madrid, Spain. Regarding results, four techno-social dimensions are proposed—motivation, degree of formality, degree of sociality, and type of technological domestication—to construct a typology of four ideal forms of digital literacy: unconscious literacy, self-motivated literacy, professional literacy, and social support. To achieve digital inclusion, self-motivation towards using digital technologies is mandatory, but social practices, academic and professional literacy might work as a secondary socialization process that enhance subjects’ affinity with ICTs. Nevertheless, the effect of social support is ambivalent: It could promote digital inclusion among people already interested in digital technologies, but it could also lead to dynamics of self-exclusion among people who are not confident regarding their digital competencies or disinterested in ICTs.
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