Department of Sociology
Eszter Hargittai's current project (the Web Use Project -http://www.webuse.org) looks at how people's skills differ in use of the World Wide Web and what factors explain these differences. As more and more people gain access to the Internet, it is increasingly important to find ways to distinguish among users when exploring digital inequality instead of merely concentrating on differences in access. The major empirical contribution of the study is a detailed look at how a random sample of Web users locates content online. The study considers individual attributes in conjunction with institutional factors by examining how people use the medium in the context of what strategies businesses pursue to maximize their profits and what policies government implements with the rise of this new technology. A key policy implication is to advocate the importance of educating all segments of the population about Web use to achieve an informed and knowledgeable Internet citizenry.
Hargittai's research interests include the social and policy implications of information technologies with particular emphasis on the Internet. She has published on the comparative history of the radio's and Internet's early years, inequalities in the global diffusion of the Internet, how portal sites channel users toward some content away from other online material (see Center Working Paper #10), analysis of international telephone network, on studying and measuring globalization and on conceptualizing the "digital divide". In addition to communications and culture, Hargittai's general interest areas include economic sociology and social network analysis. For further information on Eszter Hargittai, refer to http://www.princeton.edu/~eszter.