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“24 Hours On Air”: Gender and Mobile Phones in a Brazilian Low-Income Neighbourhood

Sandra Rubia Silva

Abstract


In this paper, which is part of a twelve-month ethnography on the sociocultural practices and meanings ascribed to mobile phones in a low-income neighbourhood in Southern Brazil, I examine various forms of appropriation of this gadget in their intersections with gender relations. Following a literature discussion about gender relations in low-income groups, as well as the role of mobile phones in love/sexual relationships, I argue that mobile phones are appropriated to strengthen love ties, but also cause tension and conflict to arise as they become tools of surveillance. In this sense, I discuss the ways in which mobile phones engender what Foucault called the micropolitics of daily life, in which men and women interact in sociocultural dynamics that may reproduce gender hierarchies, but also hold the potential to subvert them. As such, the analysis also pays attention to the vitality and humour present in women's narratives, in order to argue that these seem to be connected to a certain autonomy of the female persona. The discussion engages with the work of various other researchers internationally and in Brazil and reflects on the cross-cultural implications of these practices in relation to similar studies in Africa.

 


Keywords


Mobile phones; gender; appropriation; everyday life.

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