Based on interviews with high school students living in agricultural California, this research examines how American families negotiate access to digital information resources or “net time.” Attention is paid to how socioeconomically disadvantaged families attempt to cope with resource scarcities-especially internet access necessary for schoolwork and college applications. The analysis reveals how intra-familial bargaining is guided by implicit social contracts between family members. These social contracts imply particular rights and responsibilities, depending on the families’ level of material resources. Different social contracts are evident across the economic spectrum. Some social contracts frame net time as an individualized good while others frame it as a communal good. The findings illuminate the logics underpinning familial negotiations over each kind of net time. Ultimately, familial social contracts over net time have the power to encourage or hinder use of net time for capital-enhancing activities.
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