Exploring mobile-only Internet use: results of a training study in urban South Africa

Using an ethnographic action research approach, the study by Jonathan Donner (Microsoft Research India) and Shikoh Gitau and Gary Marsden (University of Cape Town) explores the challenges, practices, and emergent framings of mobile-only Internet use in a resource-constrained setting.

“We trained eight women in a nongovernmental organization’s collective in South Africa, none of whom had used a personal computer, how to access the Internet on mobile handsets they already owned. Six months after training, most continued to use the mobile Internet for a combination of utility, entertainment, and connection, but they had encountered barriers, including affordability and difficulty of use. Participants’ assessments mingled aspirational and actual utility of the channel with and against a background of socioeconomic constraints. Discussion links the digital literacy perspective to the broader theoretical frameworks of domestication, adaptive structuration, and appropriation.”

The study was published in the International Journal of Communication.

Download paper (MobileActive.org)