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Mobile Phones and Socio-economic Transformation Among Fulani Pastoralists in Northern Benin

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The mobile phone has spread recently in rural Benin as one of the new technologies most widely adopted by Fulani pastoralists, who have generally been regarded as hostile to novelty. This article analyses the logic and forms of appropriation of mobile phones in connection with the socio-economic transformation that accompany it. An ethnographic approach was used, involving individual interviews with participant observation in various settings where mobile phones are used by Fulani pastoralists to meet challenges they face in their daily lives. It appears from the study that the mobile phone, while bringing significant changes in the livelihood strategies of pastoralists, especially in terms of social connectedness, has at the moment limited economic impacts due to various factors including accessibility and ease of use. With regard to the mass adoption of mobile phones by pastoralists, we argue that socio-economic continuity and change are to be regarded not as opposites but as interconnected realities, and this needs to be taken into account to improve development policies in connection with pastoral communities.
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Keywords: Benin; Mobile phone; appropriation; pastoral development; socio-economic change

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2017

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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