The Internet in the Communication Infrastructure of Urban Residential Communities: Macro- or Mesolinkage?


  • Sorin Matei,

    1. Sorin Matei (PhD, University of Southern California) teaches in the Department of Communication at Purdue University.
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  • Sandra Ball-Rokeach

    1. Sandra Ball-Rokeach (PhD, University of Washington) is a professor of communication and sociology and director of the Communication Technology and Community Program, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California.
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The article refines the view that the Internet is increasingly incorporated in everyday life, concluding that the new medium has been partially integrated in the “communication infrastructure” of English-speaking Los Angeles neighborhoods. Here, Internet connectedness is associated with civic participation and indirectly contributes to “belonging” to a residential community. However, in predominantly Asian and Latino areas, the Internet is disengaged from communication environments that lead to belonging, being associated with mainstream media. In these communities its contribution is contradictory; although it probably contributes to the process of ethnic assimilation, it might also lead to disengagement of most educated and technologically savvy residents from their neighborhoods. A possible “magnifying glass effect” is proposed as explanation for the differential integration of new media in community life.