Despite claims that there is not enough diversity in anonymous, voluntary efforts, it often comes down to choice. Women are not discriminated against on Wikipedia, though more men do it, and white people are not prevented from blogging just because more black people do it.
Black people, nee African-Americans in American sociology papers, are more likely to blog than their white and Hispanic counterparts, according to surveys analyzed by a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley - one and a half times to nearly twice as much as whites.
"Blacks consume less online content, but once online, are more likely to produce it," said the study's author, Jen Schradie, a doctoral candidate in sociology at U.C. Berkeley.
Yet there can't be a sociology paper if there isn't a claim about a lack of diversity. There is still a 'digital divide', says the author, because only more educated people do it and fewer black people have college degrees and own fewer laptops.
Schradie looked at data from more than 40,000 Americans surveyed between 2002 and 2008 for the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which tracks Internet use and social media trends. Schradie's latest paper is a follow up to a 2011 study in which she found a "digital divide" among online content producers based on education and socio-economic status- on average, about 10 percent of blacks are likely to blog, compared to 6 percent of whites, according to surveys taken during that seven-year period. And that figure steadily rose, with 17 percent of blacks likely to blog in 2008, compared to 9 percent of whites. White people read more but black people create more.
During that period, free online blogging platforms such as Blogger and WordPress were widely available to the public. Today, blogs have been eclipsed by micro-blogging tools like Twitter and Facebook but blogs continue to populate the digital landscape at a steady rate, the study notes.
The study did actually analyze why African Americans blog at higher rates than whites and Hispanics, but speculated anyway: "Perhaps, African Americans, who have been marginalized from the mainstream news media, now have a platform for participation and are more likely to blog."
That makes no sense to people on the right part of the political spectrum, since they are far more disenfranchised than blacks in mainstream media yet blog less.
One group, ColorOfChange.org, went further and tried to claim that social media are popular among blacks because they are a natural extension of the word-of-mouth communication traditions used in African American communities. In other words, there are scientifically no races but one race is still genetically inclined to like blogging 200 years after leaving Africa.
"Ultimately, the study shows that class inequality is perpetuating the digital divide in social media," Schradie said. "Race matters, but not the way we think it does."
Maybe white people need some blogging outreach.
Publish in Information, Communication&Society.
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