Eszter Hargittai

Eszter Hargittai is professor and chair of Internet Use & Society in the Department of Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich. She is editor of the Handbook of Digital Inequality, as well as three books on the behind-the-scenes realities of doing empirical social science research.

  • Connected in Isolation

    Connected in Isolation

    Digital Privilege in Unsettled Times

    Eszter Hargittai

    What life during lockdown reveals about digital inequality.

    The vast majority of people in wealthy, highly connected, or digitally privileged societies may have crossed the digital divide, but being online does not mean that everyone is equally connected—and digital inequality reflects experience both online and off. In Connected in Isolation Eszter Hargittai looks at how this digital disparity played out during the unprecedented isolation imposed in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

    During initial COVID-19 lockdowns the internet, for many, became a lifeline, as everything from family get-togethers to doctor's visits moved online. Using survey data collected in April and May of 2020 in the United States, Italy, and Switzerland, Hargittai explores how people from varied backgrounds and differing skill levels were able to take advantage of digital media to find the crucial information they needed—to help loved ones, procure necessities, understand rules and risks. Her study reveals the extent to which long-standing social and digital inequalities played a critical role in this move toward computer-mediated communication—and were often exacerbated in the process. However, Hargittai notes, context matters: her findings reveal that some populations traditionally disadvantaged with technology, such as older people, actually did better than others, in part because of the continuing importance of traditional media, television in particular.

    The pandemic has permanently shifted how reliant we are upon online information, and the implications of Hargittai's groundbreaking comparative research go far beyond the pandemic. Connected in Isolation informs and expands our understanding of digital media, including how they might mitigate or worsen existing social disparities; whom they empower or disenfranchise; and how we can identify and expand the skills people bring to them.

    • Paperback $25.00
  • Digital Research Confidential

    Digital Research Confidential

    The Secrets of Studying Behavior Online

    Eszter Hargittai and Christian Sandvig

    Behind-the-scenes stories of how Internet research projects actually get done.

    The realm of the digital offers both new methods of research and new objects of study. Because the digital environment for scholarship is constantly evolving, researchers must sometimes improvise, change their plans, and adapt. These details are often left out of research write-ups, leaving newcomers to the field frustrated when their approaches do not work as expected. Digital Research Confidential offers scholars a chance to learn from their fellow researchers' mistakes—and their successes.

    The book—a follow-up to Eszter Hargittai's widely read Research Confidential—presents behind-the-scenes, nuts-and-bolts stories of digital research projects, written by established and rising scholars. They discuss such challenges as archiving, Web crawling, crowdsourcing, and confidentiality. They do not shrink from specifics, describing such research hiccups as an ethnographic interview so emotionally draining that afterward the researcher retreated to a bathroom to cry, and the seemingly simple research question about Wikipedia that mushroomed into years of work on millions of data points. Digital Research Confidential will be an essential resource for scholars in every field.

    ContributorsMegan Sapnar Ankerson, danah boyd, Amy Bruckman, Casey Fiesler, Brooke Foucault Welles, Darren Gergle, Eric Gilbert, Eszter Hargittai, Brent Hecht, Aron Hsiao, Karrie Karahalios, Paul Leonardi, Kurt Luther, Virág Molnár, Christian Sandvig, Aaron Shaw, Michelle Shumate, Matthew Weber

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $30.00