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Mobile (in)security? Exploring the realities of mobile phone use in conflict areas

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Across disciplines, scholars extol the revolutionary potential of mobile technologies in developing nations. Mobile phones in particular may facilitate economic and social development. However, our understanding of mobile phone’s interaction with a developing country’s society is limited by two factors: first, development is often accompanied by social and political conflict; and second, scholars often provide a broad overview on the use of these technologies. We address these limitations through the use of data collected from ethnographic interviews conducted in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We highlight the everyday use of mobile technologies in developing nations that experience political conflict. We conclude that while mobile technologies have some potential of mitigating social inequality, political conflict, and safety concerns, these opportunities for meaningful use are hampered by limitations associated with daily life in developing countries such as irregular access to electricity and network coverage boundaries.
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Keywords: Mobile phones; conflict; development; informal networks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center on Conflict and Development, Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, TX, USA

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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