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.

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.


Becky Faith

Research Fellow

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Faith, Becky


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