Mobile phone, spatiality and inequality: a case study of rural-urban migrant workers in Shanghai


Track DIC - Development and ICT-enabled Well-Being

Abstract:  This paper is concerned with the extent to which mobile phones and other ICTs address displacement as a result of mobility and enhances social inclusion of rural-urban migrant workers in the context of China. We present a case study of mobile phone practices among rural migrant workers in a Shanghai restaurant, who are uprooted from their hometown and reside in urban environments as marginalized residents in a luminal, transient and fluid state of being. The study adopts a multi-spatial approach. Through the juxtaposition of spaces as relations and practices, we seek to show that technological practices are deeply embedded in socio-spatial inequalities and could be seen as the locus of class reproduction, notwithstanding the reconfiguration of mobility and connectivity through mobile technologies. Implications of a socio-spatial perspective in ICT4D research are also discussed.