From Kinship to Link-up: Cell Phones and Social Networking in Jamaica

Abstract

On the basis of lists of numbers saved on individuals' cell phones and other evidence, it is argued here that low-income Jamaicans use the cell phone to establish extensive networks, a practice identified as \"link-up.\" Link-up has many of the same characteristics as those found by R. T. Smith in a classic study of Jamaican kinship and genealogy. However, the new evidence suggests that kinship merely exemplifies a pattern that may be found in a wider range of Jamaican networking strategies including the creation of spiritual and church communities, the search for sexual partners, and the coping strategies adopted by low-income households. Link-up also accounts for the rapid adoption of cell phones and the patterns of their use by low-income Jamaicans and highlights the importance of understanding the local incorporation of cell phones and local forms of networking enacted through new communication technologies.

Citation

Current Anthropology (2005) 46 (5) 755-778,ISSN 0011-3204

From Kinship to Link-up: Cell Phones and Social Networking in Jamaica

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