Inequalities in the social use of the Internet of things: A capital and skills perspective

Reference Type:

Journal Article

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Published In:

New Media & Society

Year:

2019

Author(s):

Alex van der Zeeuw
Alexander JAM van Deursen
Giedo Jansen

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In this article, we set out to explain different types of social uses of the Internet of Things (IoT) using forms of capital and Internet skills. We argue that the IoT platform entices different manners of social communication that are easily overlooked when focusing on the novelty of smart “things.” How people use the IoT socially is crucial in trying to understand how people create, maintain, or absolve social relations in a networked society. We find inversed effects for social capital, income and education on private use, and on sharing IoT data with a partner. Sharing with acquaintances and strangers is predicted by cultural activities. Sharing IoT data with acquaintances can especially be attributed to social relations that escape the immediate household. We conclude that varying figurations of capital and Internet skills predict how the IoT is used socially.