Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Mobile Money and the (Un)Making of Social Relations in Chivi, Zimbabwe

Article in the Journal of Southern African Studies by Simbarashe Gukurume, Great Zimbabwe University & Innocent T. Mahiya, University of KwaZulu Natal 

Mobile money agents booths at Chivi Growth Point;
Photo Credit: Simbarashe Gukurume 


The rapid expansion of mobile money technologies in Zimbabwe has substantially altered the monetary ecology and the payment landscape. This article examines the ways in which the adoption, usage and meanings attached to mobile money (re)configure social relationships in the rural community of Chivi. We demonstrate the ways in which mobile money technologies mediate the politics of everyday social relations and shape local social relations in profound ways. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, we explore the complex ways through which mobile money makes and unmakes social relations between transacting parties and between the agents themselves. Our main finding is that the impact of mobile money on social relations in the community is predominantly ambivalent. We observed that mobile money triggers contestation, hostility and conflict while simultaneously fostering social solidarity and convivial relationships. The main sources of contention in mobile money transactions in Chivi involved space, currency conversion exchange rates, identification and charges. These are, however, unintended consequences of mobile money usage in Chivi.

Access Journal of South African Studies: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03057070.2020.1823682

To obtain digital copies of the full paper, email Simbarashe Gukurume, sgukurume1@gmail.com.

Read about the original IMTFI-funded research: http://www.imtfi.uci.edu/research/2015/mahiya_gukurume_2015.php#

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