Using Photo-Elicitation to Explore Social Representations of Community Multimedia Centers in Mozambique

Sara Vannini, Isabella Rega, Simone Sala, Lorenzo Cantoni

Abstract


Ten Mozambican Community Multimedia Centers (CMCs) were investigated by analyzing Social Representations of users and staff members. Photo-elicitation, an underexplored methodological approach in the domain of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), was employed to conduct the study, and a three-step qualitative content analysis was performed on both visual and textual data. Results tend to confirm and build upon outcomes from the existing literature on Public Access Venues (PAVs). Local communities value these centers because they bring social recognition to people working or learning there. The venues are associated with a symbolism that extends from the social recognition of the individual to the development and social inclusion of the whole community, which, because of the presence of the venue, does not feel left behind. In this vein, the study also shows that the importance of CMCs is often not related to the newest technology available, but to the technology that reaches the most of the community. The study also highlights neglected dimensions of CMCs, such as the importance of the exterior appearance of the venue, and the perception of a switch in their nature from static centers funded by third parties towards more entrepreneurial-driven ones. The presented research also contributes to the ICT4D field by proposing a promising research protocol, which is able to elicit representations otherwise difficult to obtain.


Keywords


Community Multimedia Center; Social Representation; Photo-elicitation; Telecenter; Community Radio

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The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries.
ISSN: 1681-4835 www.ejisdc.org