TOWARDS E-INCLUSION: AN OVERVIEW OF ICT ACCESS AND USE BY MIGRANTS
, T. Karsenti2
1University of Quebec in Montreal (CANADA)
2University of Montreal (CANADA)
International migration has steadily increased to become a significant trend (Massez, Arango, Hugo, Kouaouci & Pelligrino, 1993). ICT have a major impact on mobility and migration (Codagnone & Kluzer, 2011). Before migration takes place, migrants use ICT to progressively plan their journey (e.g., keeping in touch with diasporas) and then make it a reality (e.g., seeking an apartment, buying airplane tickets). Newly arrived immigrants subsequently use ICT for two main reasons. First, mobile phones and computer-mediated-communication enable them to stay in touch with the source societies. Second, ICT are omnipresent in the West, where most immigrants end up. Notably, ICT provide immigrants access to information, services, and opportunities (Kluzer, Haché & Codagnone, 2008), including:
- Official information (e.g., government websites for political, economic, and social aspects) and informal information (e.g., networking websites);
- Empowerment: using ICT to gain voice and visibility, and to dialog with the host society (e.g., ethnic community websites);
- Services, e.g., for employment (job search websites) and education.
ICT access and digital literacy are therefore vital. Otherwise, immigrants risk being excluded from the whole society (Warschauer, 2002). Accordingly, e-inclusion involves two key-issues: 1) ICT access and use by immigrants; 2) initiatives by host societies to support the digital inclusion of immigrants.
Drawing from the emerging field of ICT and migration, this paper explores issues of migrants’ access and use of ICT. We begin with an overview of contemporary migration trends. We then discuss the relationship between migration and ICT by presenting a conceptual framework for potential ICT use by migrants throughout the migration process (before, during and after migration). Based on a literature review of ICT access and use by immigrants, we then address the question of ICT access and use by immigrants as well as some relevant initiatives. The results are mixed: some studies (e.g., Fairlie, 2005; Tripp, 2011) conclude that immigrants access and use ICT less than local populations, supporting the digital exclusion hypothesis. Unexpectedly, other studies (e.g., Statistics Canada, 2008) found the opposite: immigrants access and use ICT more than their host societies. This is attributable to the need for immigrants to stay in touch with the source society and to fully benefit from ICT-enabled information and services in the host society. Possible explanations linked to the heterogeneity of migrant populations are offered. Finally, we present some initiatives taken by host societies to support digital literacy in immigrants from an inclusive perspective.