Exploring mobile phone practices in social movements in South Africa - the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile phones have developed explosively in Africa, with South Africa having one of the highest mobile phone penetrations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile phones have introduced a set of new communicative and cultural practices. Innovative pricing models in Africa, such as 'pay-as-you go' and 'please call me' have helped to make mobile phones a part of the lives of many who are otherwise disconnected. Social justice movements in South Africa, often marginalized by mainstream communication systems, are increasingly using mobile phones to coordinate actions, mobilize and create networks despite the fact that most of these movements have their origins among deprived communities. This article analyses how the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign appropriates mobile phones and the impact of this appropriation on its roles and collective identities. In addition, the article examines how the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign has (re)appropriated and re-shaped the mobile phone to amplify traditional methods of mobilization; leading to the creation of what Henry Jenkins (2006) has called 'convergence culture'. Drawing on social construction of technology and domestication theories, the article argues that mobile phones have not replaced traditional ways of mobilization, but have amplified them. In this regard, the use of both traditional mobilization tools and mobile phones strengthen mobilization activities and give new meaning to the mobile phone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalAfrican Identities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • collective identity
  • mobile phones
  • social movements
  • Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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