Bytes, Broccoli, and Bordeaux: Bridging Digital Inequities and the Horizons of the Possible in Agricultural California

Fri, February 14, 2020 at 191 Communications Arts and Sciences

Based on in-depth interviews and long-term ethnographic immersion in an agricultural community in California, the research illuminates how young people experience digital engagements in their everyday lives. In a community wearing the signs of hard economic times, particular attention is paid to a hard-to-reach population: the digitally excluded and under-resourced whose experiences stand in stark contrast to those who have “grown up digital.” The project provides a panorama of young people’s daily rounds in order to compare the digital engagements of youths from across the economic spectrum. Findings illuminate digital inequalities and outcomes vis-à-vis information-seeking and evaluation, digital skill and literacy acquisition, education and academic performance, and career and college aspirational planning. The project explores disconnects between some youths’ perceptions of their occupational horizons and the tech-driven career opportunities o­ered by local industries such as the county’s 1.4 billion dollar agricultural sector. The talk closes with thoughts on how to spark the digital imaginations of young people to bridge the gap between young peoples’ imagined careers and the possibilities o­ered by an increasingly digitized occupational landscape.

Laura Robinson is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Santa Clara University. Previous appointments include a‑liated faculty at the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, visiting faculty at Cornell University and Trinity College Dublin, and postdoctoral researcher at USC Annenberg. She earned her PhD from UCLA, where she held a Mellon Fellowship in Latin American Studies and received a Bourse d’Accueil at the École Normale Supérieure. Robinson has served as Series Co-Editor of Emerald Studies in Media and Communications, North American Coordinator for the Brazil-U.S. Colloquium on Communication Research, Latin American Organizer for PPDD, and Section Chair of CITAMS (2014-2015). Her research has earned awards from CITASA, AOIR, and NCA IICD. Robinson’s research examines digital inequalities, interaction and identity work, and global media in Brazil, France, and the U.S.