We’ve looked at the difference age makes to copying and downloading (a lot), and gender (not much), and politics (not much). How about race/ethnicity?
Well, it makes some.
Here is our sequence of questions about attitudes toward sharing music.
Hispanics respondents were more tolerant than other groups of sharing in all forms, including through personal networks (friends) and larger online networks (posting links and uploading files). Black and white respondent attitudes are very similar–in all but one case within the margin of error.
What about acquisition practices–our core ‘copy culture’ metrics?
Black and Hispanic responses run pretty consistently–though not dramatically–ahead of white responses. Copying and downloading for free are, by all appearances, more common in these two communities.
What about narrower practices of P2P use and sharing (which correlate with large collections of copied materials in our study)? Black and Hispanic respondents show somewhat higher use of P2P services, but there are no differences with respect to more engaged practices (e.g., membership in private file sharing communities).
Income was not a significant differentiator within the groups. High and low income blacks, whites, and Hispanics have similar copy copying and downloading profiles. But age did make a difference. Here we found something unexpected: age separation emerged among older respondents, not younger ones.
In other words, black, white, and Hispanic 18- to 29-year-olds have very similar rates of participation in our broadest measure of copy culture—comprising 66%–69% of the Internet users in each group.
But overall, Black and Hispanic communities have higher levels of participation in copy culture (56% B; 56% H; 42% W) because these practices are more prevalent among older members of these communities, not younger ones.
Our data does not provide much insight into this divergence, but we think it probably reflects the longer-term role of informal media economies in these communities, rooted in the relatively higher cost and lower availability of legal services (such as the scarcity of movie theaters in minority-dominated neighborhoods). Among Hispanics, these factors are likely strengthened by the importance of Spanish-language media, which has had still fewer legal means of distribution.
And that’s about as far as our data takes us. These aren’t big differences, but they’re there. Sociologically-informed explanations welcome.
More… Greg Sandoval explores the apparent race gap here, but doesn’t get very far.
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