Journal Article

Information Technologies & International Development 14

Maintenance Affordances and Structural Inequalities: Mobile Phone Use by Low-Income Women in the United Kingdom

Published on 1 January 2018

This article shows the impact of “maintenance affordances” on women’s capabilities to use mobile phones to lead lives they value.

Analysis of data from a qualitative study of mobile phone use by 30 young low-income women—including 15 who had no access to the Internet other than through their mobile phones—shows how maintaining mobile phones through charge, credit, and repair is a significant burden. These challenges were inextricably bound up with structural inequality experienced by respondents such as poor employment conditions and unaffordable housing.

This study therefore proposes a new theoretical framework combining affordances and the capability approach, in which the maintenance affordances of a technology are seen to impact directly on individuals’ capability to use this resource to lead lives they value.


Image of Becky Faith
Becky Faith

Research Fellow

Publication details

Faith, Becky

Cite this publication

Faith, B. (2018). Maintenance affordances and structural inequalities: Mobile phone use by low-income women in the United Kingdom. Information Technologies & International Development (Special Section), 14, 66–80.

Citation copied


About this publication

Research themes
Inequalities and Poverty

Related content