Genderstanding mobile telephony: Women, Men and their use of cellular phones in Jamaica

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Title: Genderstanding mobile telephony: Women, Men and their use of cellular phones in Jamaica
Author: Dunn, Hopeton; Leith Dunn
Abstract: The mobile phone has emerged as the most widely-used communication device of the present era, with penetration levels among both men and women exceeding 94% in Jamaica. The cellular phone is also widely used across all classes, including those described as living 'at the bottom of the pyramid'. This paper draws on a recently completed national household study of quantitative patterns of mobile phone usage, as well as on qualitative data gathered in the country from both men and women. Among these detailed interviews of a disabled female urban market trader and a rural-based male taxi operator, who provide insights on their motivations and practices as owners of mobile telephony. Both respondents regard the phone as indispensable to their business and necessary in terms of personal needs for social networking. At the same time, these interviews offer glimpses of how men and women relate to their mobiles in similar yet different ways. The study benefits from global insights provided by a variety of sources, including the work of researcher Hans Geser, prior research in Jamaica by both the authors and by ehtnographer Heather Horst. The authors conclude that while male and female usage patters may appear similar, there are subtle qualitative differences men and women's approaches to mobile communication. The paper concludes with a range of recommendations, including the need for further qualitative research into the effects of mobile telephony on interpersonal relationships, differentiated handset acquisition and usage patterns among men and women and, on how the mobile phone may provide a platform for both enhanced business development opportunities among low income households and an easier transition by low income users into more advanced broadband technology applications.
Description: Prepared for GK3 in association with the DIRSI Project: mobile opportunities Poverty and Telephony Access in Latin America and the Caribbean Research Supported by IDRC, Canada.Prepared for GK3 in association with the DIRSI Project: mobile opportunities Poverty and Telephony Access in Latin America and the Caribbean Research Supported by IDRC, Canada.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2139/43502


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