Social Relations and Mobile Internet Access and Usage in Less Connected Communities: A conceptual case study

by Aske Hjarvard Raaschou

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: ICT; Development; Smartphone; Tanzania; Empowerment; Dependency; Situational relevance; BlueTown; Communication; Network; Internet; digital divide
Record ID: 1120531
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/23277


This paper deals with Information and Communication Technologies’ (ICTs) effect on social relations in a peri-rural town in Tanzania. With the use of actor-network theory this paper aims to comprehend how actors distribute, mobilize and negotiate flows and connections centered around internet access. The conclusions is made on the basis of empirical data collected during two weeks of fieldwork and academic literature. With the use of various concepts the paper analyses how internet access and usage can affect existing social structures. It further analyses how ICT can promote dependency, emancipation and empowerment. The paper concludes that it is crucial to implement and evaluate effects of ICTs in accordance with the situational relevance of the affected community. The paper further concludes that individuals’ economic and social capital and engagement in social networks are crucial to both acquiring situational relevant information and obtaining technological competencies which can foster digital and citizen empowerment. The paper finally concludes that implementation of ICTs can reinforce hierarchical relationships and augment dependency relations, but that it increases the distribution of information which is beneficial to the community.