Cell Phones In African Society

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Cell Phones, Sharing, and Social Status in an African Society by Kan Wong Technological developments are constantly changing us as a global community. A good example of this is described in Smith’s article which is based on his observations of Nigerian society and the adaptations made to accommodate and further incorporate modern technology into their culture. Cell phones, and its influence on Nigerian culture, was the focus in Smith’s study. How the Nigerian people embraced cell phone tech- nology, giving meaning and social significance to its use, was interesting to me. In reviewing this article and answering the following questions, I gained a new perspective on how cultures adapt to outside influences. How is it that so many Nigerians who struggle to afford life’s basic necessities go to such great lengths to acquire a cell phone? The answer is culture-based. Nigerian society has established patterns of social relationships that are based on expectations of sharing and reciprocity. Many people in Nigeria leave their home villages and move to cities and towns within the country, to seek jobs or education. It is immensely important to these people that they maintain their social relationships with friends and family that live long distances away. Cell phones fulfill this crucial social need to stay connected. Mobile phones are also viewed as necessary to establishing social status by way of ownership. A cell phone and the cellular service it uses is somewhat expensive for the average Nigerian, but the wealth and prestige it symbolically confers on the individual who owns one, is worth it for the social recognition one receives. The cellular providers reinforce these culture based beliefs through their advertising by emphasizing the benefits and more importantly the recognition one will get from owning a

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