Last week class in my MSc in Digital Society, we talked about “Metrics, mobility and life chances”, and personally that class connected with me, my perspective and story. I think the story of the major of black people. Also, I found the article “This is how Big Tech is failing its Black employees”.
Class, article and personal life all together bumping into my head and making me think about social mobility and life chances. Professor Karen Gregory gave a good and macro perspective of algorithms, digital technologies and how they impact those “life chances” for some people, bringing concepts of class [Marx and Weber] in one of her lectures during Digital Society masters, and the seed to understand that race and class will determinate somehow your access and that access your chances, in somehow.
Bringing also the concept of inequalities in digital society, as an extension of it from non-digitalized world, as UN definition, ” Inequality is the state of not being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities”. (United Nations, 2015)
On the other hand, the article “This is how Big Tech is failing its Black employees”, talks about the gap of black professionals in the tech industry, giving a statement that I can relate and will comment: “People always want to find a reason that the rare few make it through a system that was not designed for them, and here it is: Systems are not precise, and sometimes people will bring the right personality to the right place at the right time. I had mentors who guided me through the industry and supporters who opened doors for me. I got lucky.”
The “exceptions” just like the author, I got lucky also, to be honest. I am the first of my whole family that has enter a university, learned another language and won a scholarship. It is so impactful, that when I got the scholarship and my mother and I were talking, the first thing I said crying was “I am changing our family’s history. This will change our lives forever” in constant crying. Why?! Because inequality is about the people’s potential outcomes is the result of circumstances that is beyond our control, such as ethnicity, family background, gender, all that are constantly related. I am aware of it, I possess “sociological imagination” to understand the impact of my journey in life is beyond my capacity or “hard work”, because the starting point is different for each person and ethnicity, family background or gender, can define your starting point in life.
It is not about meritocracy; it is lucky and to be prepared if you get lucky. And all that structure it is in the digital space, we are invisible as we are in our neighborhoods’ and without access or opportunities.
Ellison, Michael (2020), This is how Big Tech is failing its Black employees at www.fastcompany.com
Fourcade, M. and Healy, K (2013). “Classification Situations: Life Chances in the Neoliberal Era.” Accounting Organizations and Society
van Dijk, Jan A. G. M. (2013) “Inequalities in the Network Society” (105-124) in K. Orton-Johnson & N. Prior (Eds.), Digital sociology: critical perspectives.
United Nations, Development Strategy and Policy Analysis Unit, 2015. Concepts of Inequality Development Issues No. 1.