This qualitative case study describes the social appropriation of mobile phones among low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) by asking how favela (slum) residents appropriate cell phones. Findings highlight the difficulty these populations encounter in acquiring and using cell phones due to social and economic factors, and the consequent subversive or illegal tactics used to gain access to such technology. Moreover, these tactics are embedded in and exemplars of the cyclic power relationships between high-and low-income populations that constitute the unique use of mobile technologies in these Brazilian slums. The article concludes by suggesting that future research on technology in low-income communities focus instead on the relationship of people to technology rather than a dichotomization of their access or lack thereof.
New Media and Society, 2011, Vol 13, Issue 3, p. 411-426
access to technology; appropriation; digital divide; globalization; infrastructure; low-income communities; mobilt phones; sharing; slums; theft