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Intergenerational relations and the power of the cell phone: perspectives on young people’s phone usage in sub-Saharan Africa

Porter, Gina; Hampshire, Kate; Abane, Albert; Munthali, Alister; Robson, Elsbeth; Bango, Andisiwe; de Lannoy, Ariane; Gunguluza, Nwabisa; Tanle, Augustine; Milner, James; Owusu, Samuel

Authors

Gina Porter

Kate Hampshire

Albert Abane

Alister Munthali

Andisiwe Bango

Ariane de Lannoy

Nwabisa Gunguluza

Augustine Tanle

James Milner

Samuel Owusu

Abstract

Cell phones present new forms of sociality and new possibilities of encounter for young people across the globe. Nowhere is this more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa where the scale of usage, even among the very poor, is remarkable. In this paper we reflect on the inter-generational encounters which are embedded in young people’s cell phone interactions, and consider the wider societal implications, not least the potential for associated shifts in the generational balance of power. An intriguing feature of this changing generational nexus is that while many young people’s phone-based interactions, from their mid-teens onwards, are shifting away from the older generation towards friendship networks in their own age cohort, at the same time they are repositioning themselves – or becoming repositioned – as family information hubs, as a consequence of their phone expertise. The paper draws on mixed-methods research with young people aged c. 9–25 years and in-depth interviews with older age-groups in 24 sites (ranging from high density poor urban to remote rural) across Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2015-08
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 64
Issue August
Pages 37-46
Institution Citation Porter, G., Hampshire, K., Abane, A., Munthali, A., Robson, E., Bango, A., …Owusu, S. (2015). Intergenerational relations and the power of the cell phone: perspectives on young people’s phone usage in sub-Saharan Africa. Geoforum, 64(August), 37-46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.06.002
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.06.002
Keywords Mobile phones, Generation, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Young people
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718515001517
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Intergenerational relations and the power of the cell phone: Perspectives on young people’s phone usage in sub-Saharan Africa; Journal Title: Geoforum; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.06.002; Content Type: article; Copyright: Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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Copyright Statement
©2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. ThisisanopenaccessarticleundertheCCBYlicense(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



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