Accepted paper:

Agency and the practice of everyday life: To what extent do mobile ICTs support development aims and goals in Uganda?


Rachel Masika

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Mobile phone technologies are increasingly viewed as important enabling tools for a broad range of pro-poor services: governance, health, education, agriculture, livelihoods etc. Mobile ICTs also potentially contribute to poverty alleviation through facilitating the effective formation and utilization of social networks and social capital. Active agency by the users is also required, however, if they are to foster positive development outcomes for low-income groups. A review of the literature on technology and agency suggests that the outcomes of their intersection is filtered through socio-political constructions, capabilities and functionings to produce varying and complex benefits and costs for individuals within socially differentiated groups. This has implications for how social capital and social networks are built and accessed.. The implication is that, within this socio-political context, users simply respond to opportunities enabled by mobile phones, in other words they exhibit tactical agency. A key question, however, concerns the extent to which tactical agency can lead to strategic agency among socially differentiated groups, where it is empowering and meets development objectives. This presentation will discuss these issues in relation to gender subordination and ‘everyday’ mobile phone use within peri-urban informal workspaces in Uganda.

panel D7
ICTs and development in Africa