Beyond the gender (dis)empowerment dichotomy: The mobile phone as social catalyst for gender transformation in the Global South

Xin Pei, Arul Chib

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Over the past two decades, increasing attention has been drawn to gender impacts arising from adoption and usage of information and communication technologies (ICTs), the mobile phone especially, by marginalized women in the Global South. Grounded in the theory of structuration, our study challenges techno-determinism and structural functionalism embodied in a prevailing gender (dis)empowerment dichotomy, and instead reveals the contextually situated and dynamically negotiated techno-socio relationships. It allows for examination of the mobile phone in the interactions between agency of women to get empowered and their situated gendered social power structures. While the phone reinforces structural constraints via facilitating access, surveillance, and intervention from those of higher patriarchal statuses, it simultaneously enables women’s strategic responses involving avoidance, accommodation, and collaboration. The constraining yet empowering processes conceptually make the functioning of the mobile phone as socially catalyzing the development of self-consciousness by women, and furthermore, the clustering of awakening individuals toward emergent female collective power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-595
Number of pages18
JournalNew Media and Society
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • China
  • Global South
  • gender (dis)empowerment
  • marginalized women
  • mobile phone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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