Digital economy: a source of regional economic prosperity and inequality

Session organisers:
  • Raquel Ortega-Argiles (University of Birmingham, UK)
  • Emmanouil Tranos (University of Bristol, UK)
  • Tasos Kitsos (University of Birmingham, UK)

The rapid decline in computing costs, the emergence of the internet as a communication tool, the rapid development of the mobile internet, the proliferation of day-to-day applications, and the increasing role of internet-based social networks and commercial platforms have greatly affected the functioning of the economy and have profoundly affected businesses, public organisations and personal life. The deployment of new, emerging digital technologies, such as 5G networks, could lead to further economic development with an increase in disruptive innovation and new opportunities and challenges for cities and regions. However, important socio-economic and geographical divides exist and maybe further strengthened.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns have shown an increase in our dependency on digital technologies. They drastically accelerated digitisation processes in various domains: from selling products online to working from home and creatively creating services and products that can be consumed online to build robust lockdown-proof business models and digital infrastructure. This drastic digitisation has been a form of economic resilience during a period of extreme uncertainty but at the same time has exposed many interregional and intrarregional inequalities (skill literacy, quality of digital infrastructures, high-intensity digital environments vs. left-behind places).

This is a call for empirical and theoretical papers that analyse the effect of the digital economy and the engagement with digital technologies as a driver of economic prosperity and/or a source of regional inequalities. We are very interested in discussing the long-term effects of drastic digitisation and how cities and regions might be affected by a higher dependency on digital technologies. We would like to see papers contributing to the understanding on how to measure the effects of the Digital Economy in terms of new data, measurement and methodologies and mixed-methods approaches. And we are also interested in understanding how urban and regional policies can support these processes and address the underpinning challenges.
This call for papers is part of our ongoing research project on the Impact of the Digital Economy on Regional Inequalities funded by Facebook.


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