Complicating Connectivity: Women’s Negotiations with Smartphones in an Indian Slum

Tripta Chandola  | January 2016


The transformational possibilities of smartphones are particularly emphasised in places where there are development needs. Whether framed by international or national development agendas, the link between smart technologies and progress is hard to challenge. Yet we still know little about the actual uses of new technologies by non elite ‘invisible users’, and their ‘changing sense of the wider world and their place within it’ formulated through their engagement with new technologies (Jenna Burrell, 2012:4). The frames and theories through which we place people and their uses can blind us to what is happening in particular contexts with particular people. Don Slater (2013) describes the ‘holy trinity’ of ‘new media’, ‘development’ and ‘globalization’ as irrefutable organising frames for our thinking about the future, and yet he shows how they are in fact just one (albeit dominant) story about the future. He urges us to consider such terms and frameworks as ‘part of the fields we study and act within, to render them as topics rather than resources’ (2013:2). They represent ‘northern cosmologies’ and the beliefs around and classifications of these same terms (or elements within them) from the point of view and experience of ‘invisible users’ often looks different.