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Department ofSociology


Laura Robinson and Aneka Khilnani

Laura Robinson and Aneka Khilnani

Laura Robinson: Sabbatical Highlights

Laura Robinson and co-author Aneka Khilnana '07 published articles and presented on digital inequalities.

Associate Professor Laura Robinson wrote:

During my sabbatical last year I was excited to have the opportunity to work on a number of projects, several of them with SCU alumna (2017) Aneka Khilnani who is now training to be a physician in the M.D. program at The George Washington University. Together with Aneka and international scholars, I published several articles on digital inequalities and emergent phenomena including COVID-19 for which I was cited in the Seattle Times coverage of the pandemic.

One such article was published in First Monday: “Digital Inequalities in Time of Pandemic: COVID-19 Exposure Risk Profiles and New Forms of Vulnerability” and presented at the Twin Pandemics event this fall. Aneka, co-authors and I, “...argue that new kinds of risk are emerging with the COVID-19 virus, and that these risks are unequally distributed. As we expose to view, digital inequalities and social inequalities are rendering certain subgroups significantly more vulnerable to exposure to COVID-19. Vulnerable populations bearing disproportionate risks include the social isolated, older adults, penal system subjects, digitally disadvantaged students, gig workers, and last-mile workers. Therefore, we map out the intersection between COVID-19 risk factors and digital inequalities on each of these populations in order to examine how the digitally resourced have additional tools to mitigate some of the risks associated with the pandemic. We shed light on how the ongoing pandemic is deepening key axes of social differentiation, which were previously occluded from view.”

Another article, also co-authored with SCU alumna Aneka Khilnani, was published in The Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society: “The COVID-19 Pandemic: New Concerns and Connections between eHealth and Digital Inequalities” We contend that because, “...the digitally disadvantaged are less likely to use eHealth services, they bear greater risks during the pandemic to meet ongoing medical care needs...Not only are the digitally disadvantaged more likely to belong to populations experiencing greater risk – including age and economic class – but they are less likely to use eHealth services and thereby bear greater risks during the pandemic to meet ongoing medical care needs during the pandemic.”