Towards reimagining the ‘digital divide’: impediments and circumnavigation practices in the appropriation of the mobile phone by African journalists

Mabweazara, H. M. (2021) Towards reimagining the ‘digital divide’: impediments and circumnavigation practices in the appropriation of the mobile phone by African journalists. Information, Communication and Society, 24(3), pp. 344-364. (doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2020.1834602)

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Abstract

The rapid proliferation of the mobile phone in Africa has often been celebrated in deterministic ways that blindly eschew the stark and intricate realities associated with the challenges of the ‘digital divide’. Equally, very little attention has been paid to the sophisticated ways in which citizens (in association with mobile phone operators and manufacturers) negotiate their way around these challenges. Against this backdrop, this essay draws on interviews conducted between 2008 and 2016 to explore the experiences of African journalists in their deployment of the mobile phone as a journalistic and everyday communication platform. It specifically examines the localised challenges faced and the strategies employed to circumnavigate them. The findings show that, to remain connected, journalists as both professionals and citizens, generally deploy tactics hinged on their individual and collective agency as well as the creative innovations of mobile phone operators and manufacturers. Collectively, these strategies, as the paper argues, present an opportunity to reimagine the notion of the ‘digital divide’ as a multifaceted, inherently contextual experience embedded in the interplay between social actors, their immediate context of ‘practice’ and the wider social milieu.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mabweazara, Dr Hayes
Authors: Mabweazara, H. M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Information, Communication and Society
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:1369-118X
ISSN (Online):1468-4462
Published Online:29 October 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in Information, Communication and Society 24(3):344-364
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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