The (in)visible barriers to free software: Inequalities in online communities in Spain


  • Dafne Calvo University of Valladolid, Department of Early Modern History, Modern History and History of America, Journalism and Audiovisual Communication and Advertising



free culture, free software, gender inequalities, (in)visibility, knowledge divide, age divide, social movements, participation


Free culture communities support self-learning, peer production, and the distribution of knowledge generated without any restrictions. However, free culture communities are not isolated from the social inequalities of the outside world. Understanding (in)visibility as the (in)ability to address internal under-representation within these communities, this research aims to analyse their member profiles and their perception of this issue. To this end, an online questionnaire was administered to 290 communities and interviews were conducted with members of 37 of these previously surveyed communities. The respondents and interviewees acknowledged that technopolitics requires a broad knowledge of the technical implications of their values, which makes access to and participation in a community more difficult. They also criticised the gender bias of their communities and, last but not least, pointed to other inequalities relating to the sexual orientation, socioeconomic level, or ethnic origin of the members of their communities.




How to Cite

Calvo, D. (2021). The (in)visible barriers to free software: Inequalities in online communities in Spain. Studies in Communication Sciences, 21(1), 163–178.



Thematic Section: Visibility in the Digital Age