Research Output

Needing NoDI (normal democratic information)? The problem of information poverty in post-industrial society.

  The paper addresses one of the main paradoxes of post-industrial society: information poverty. While digital divides of various types have been extensively theorized and researched, the actual condition of the information poor – those at the wrong end of socioeconomic information-divides – has not received sufficient attention. Yet if advanced nations have ‘informatized’ and thus become, at least in some measure, information societies, the plight of those lacking the definitive resource ought surely to be high on academic and political agendas. The article reviews the scattered multidisciplinary literature on the condition, confirming the iron link between economic poverty and information poverty, while also registering cultural and behavioural dimensions. Building on such work, a focused, up-to-date and, it is believed, original conception is able to be introduced, namely, information poverty as a deficiency in certain taken-for-granted categories of political and cognate information, or normal democratic information (NoDI). The new construct is then trialled in the field, among a sample of severely disadvantaged men in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. The informants are indeed found to be, by and large, wanting in these key categories of information, an epistemic pathology that reflects and reinforces their material malaise. The article concludes that the ‘option for the poor’ – the political duty of care for the worst off – in the twenty-first century demands new modes of State action to combat an acute and increasingly salient social problem.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 November 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Taylor and Francis

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    302 Social interaction


Duff, A. (2014). Needing NoDI (normal democratic information)? The problem of information poverty in post-industrial society. Information, Communication and Society. 18, 63-77. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2014.934389. ISSN 1369-118X



Information poor; poverty; normativity; citizenship; post-industrialism;

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