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.
Current Anthropology (2005) 46 (5) 755-778,ISSN 0011-3204
From Kinship to Link-up: Cell Phones and Social Networking in Jamaica