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Exploring mobile-only internet use: results of a training study in urban South Africa

Jonathan Donner, Shikoh Gitau, and Gary Marsden

Abstract

Using an ethnographic action research approach, the study explores the challenges, practices, and emergent framings of mobile-only Internet use in a resource-constrained setting. We trained eight women in a nongovernmental organization’s collective in South Africa, none of whom had used a personal computer, how to access the Internet on mobile handsets they already owned. Six months after training, most continued to use the mobile Internet for a combination of utility, entertainment, and connection, but they had encountered barriers, including affordability and difficulty of use. Participants’ assessments mingled aspirational and actual utility of the channel with and against a background of socioeconomic constraints. Discussion links the digital literacy perspective to the broader theoretical frameworks of domestication, adaptive structuration, and appropriation.

Details

Publication typeArticle
Published inInternational Journal of Communication
URLhttp://ijoc.org/ojs/index.php/ijoc/article/view/750/543
Pages574–597
Volume5
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