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Investigating digital poverty in Margate

This interdisciplinary project looks at the complex ways that digital poverty manifests in a specific location, using the English seaside town of Margate as a case study. Digital poverty is not a simple problem and doesn't necessarily apply to those who lack financial capital. In an increasingly online world, being digitally disadvantaged can mean severe hardship and disadvantage. Thus, there is a strong need to better understand how, where, and why digital poverty occurs.

We conducted fieldwork in Margate, focusing on two specific groups: Digital Creatives (many of whom had moved from London) and members of the Roma community. We deployed a mixed-methods approach including situated observational fieldwork and semi-structured interviews. The history of Margate as a liminal space was theorised alongside themes of gentrification, rejuvenation, and resilience.

We examined and analysed examples of digital poverty (DP) and exclusion as well as the optimistic resilience shown by those we engaged with within Margate. We revealed a complex and nuanced landscape that excludes both Roma and economically constrained Creatives from being able to access the necessary digital resources to make a more secure future for themselves, their families, and Margate itself.DP has no easy definition. It is caused by intersecting factors including, but not limited to, money.

We found that patchy, intermittent or unreliable broadband was, in Margate, the major cause of DP, closely followed by lack of skills and knowledge. It affected lives in terms of relationships, education, earning capacity, developing skills, and even the ability to shop. Stress resulting from bad connections added to lack of wellbeing, feelings of social and familial disconnection, and of course, the ability to engage with work.

This research will add to knowledge and will change thinking around digital disadvantage. Importantly, it points out that digital poverty does not necessarily correlate to financial hardship. The findings will be used by the British Academy to formulate its policy and future direction in advising around digital poverty. Stakeholders in Margate will be able to access the findings and implement change accordingly, in order to provide better services for residents.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Rachel Stuart

Related Research Group(s)


AI Social and Digital Innovation - Social, economic and strategic effects of AI and associated technologies. Impact of AI and related technologies on societies, organisations and individuals.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 28/11/2023