ethnic disparities in access and use of ICT

Yossef, Arie & Gustavo S. Mesch: The Spatial and Social Network Dimensions of Mobile Communication

Forthcoming, Communication Research 

A Test of the Social Stratification and Social Diversification Hypotheses



Studies have shown that ethnic segregation is conducive to social segregation. With the advent of information and communication technologies, mobile communication can support non-local social interactions and reconfigure the network composition of ethnic groups. This study focused on the similarities and differences between ethno-national groups in the structure of their cell phone communications. Data for this study includes a sample of 9,099 business customers’ mobile phone calls from an  Israeli mobile operator and tested two theoretical explanations. The social stratification approach predicts that mobile communication will reflect the patterns of spatial and social stratification that exist in society. On the other hand, the social diversification hypothesis expects that residentially and socially segregated minority groups will take advantage of mobile communication to diversify their social contacts and to engage in mobile communications with non-local and out-group ties. The findings suggest that in the information society both structural conditions (the stratification approach) and social incentives (the diversification approach) are relevant for the understanding of inter-ethnic mobile communication and structural conditions reduced inter-group mobile communication patterns. Nevertheless, the Arab Israeli minority was more likely than the Jewish Israeli majority to engage in mobile communication with non-local ties and out-group members.

The Arab Israeli minority was more likely than the Jewish Israeli majority to engage in mobile communication with non-local ties and out-group members. Yet, structural conditions reduced inter-group mobile communication patterns. The theoretical implications of the findings for inter-group mobile communication are discussed.

Keywords: mobile communication, ethnic social segregation, minority status and ICT, network diversification

New Paper Published in First Monday : Changes in the discourse of online hate blogs: The effect of Barack Obama’s election in 2008

This study examines the narrative strategies that the blogs of hate groups adopted before and after a central political event, namely, the 2008 election of President Obama in the U.S. Using data from a large number of hate blogs (N=600), and sentiment analysis and data mining, we tested two alternative hypotheses derived from social identification theory. We found that there were major differences between the content of these blogs before the election and immediately after the 2008 election, with the latter evincing an increase in the advocacy of violence and hostility. We also determined that faced with this new change, the hate groups adopted a social competition strategy rather than a creativity strategy to manage their identity. Our findings imply that since the election of Barack Obama as President, the worldview of online hate groups has become more violent. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Access the full manuscript at


New Paper:Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis


Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis

Forthcoming; Social Science and Medicine, 

Gustavo Mesch, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa,

Rita Mano, Department of Human Services, University of Haifa,

Yeudit Tsamir, Department of Evaluation & Research, Maccabi Health Services,

Group differences in the search of health information were investigated, to test the
diversification hypothesis that argues that disadvantaged groups in society will be
more likely to use the Internet and computer mediated communication to access
health information to compensate for their lack of social capital. Data were gathered
from a sample of Internet users representative of the percentage of minorities in the
general population in Israel (n=1371). The results provide partial support for the
hypothesis, indicating that in multicultural societies disadvantaged groups show
greater motivation to use the Internet to access medical information than the majority
group. We interpreted our findings as suggesting that minority groups that do not
have access to specialized networks use the Internet to overcome their lack of access
to specialized information. Implications of the finding are discussed

Net Neutrality: an important concept

Net neutrality: Content must travel through Internet on equal terms
The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to adopt a net neutrality law, and the second country in the world, after Chile. The net neutrality law will ensure that access to the Internet is neutral and it is forbidden to filter the Internet.The law aims to prevent telecom providers from blocking or throttling services such as Skype or WhatsApp, an Internet SMS service. Internet providers will also be prohibited from making prices for their Internet services dependent on the services used by the subscriber

Mesch, GS & Talmud, I. (in Press) Ethnic Differences in Internet Access

Ethnic Differences in Internet Access: The Role of Occupation and Exposure

 Gustavo Mesch & Ilan Talmud (In press). Information, Communication & Society

Internet adoption expanded rapidly in recent years and its use is been associated with the formation of social networks, the accumulation of social capital and a wage premium. Thus, lack of Internet access might reflect past social inequalities and lead to its amplification. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the sources of ethnic differential access to the Internet. The central assumption is that in deeply divided societies, where there is a partial, but significant, overlap between ethnicity and the occupational structure, disadvantaged minorities lack digital access, as they are concentrated in occupations that are not exposed to computers and the Internet. The hypotheses were tested with a representative sample of the Israeli population, a deeply divided society according to ethnic lines. The findings indicate that Arab Israelis are less likely to have access to the Internet because they are concentrated in blue-collar occupations that are not exposed at work to computers and the Internet. Furthermore, lack of exposure foments the development of negative attitudes to technology that presumably defer them from adopting the Internet. The implications of the findings for the replication of digital inequalities in society are discussed.

An earlier version of the study can be downloaded at