Public access venues and community empowerment in Mozambique: a social representation study

Isabella Rega 1  and Sara Vannini 2
  • 1 Bournemouth University, Poole, UK
  • 2 University of Washington, 98195, Seattle, USA
Isabella Rega and Sara Vannini

Abstract

This article uses the theoretical construct of Social Representations to investigate how Community Multimedia Centers (CMCs) – venues that offer public access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to underserved communities – are perceived by communities in Mozambique, and it discusses how the local population understands these venues as means to foster community empowerment and socio-economic development. In total, 113 participants took part in the study, from six CMCs in different towns of Mozambique. Participants were represented from three different social groups, according to their use of the CMC: staff members, users of both CMC components – telecenter and radio – and radio-only users. The article analyses the Social Representations’ structure, using a Prototypical approach. Findings show that CMCs are seen by local communities as places at which they can receive and exchange information, and also as learning spaces, with the telecenter part focused on the delivery of ICT training and the radio component engaging with educational activities and services in a broader sense. Furthermore, CMCs are perceived as places dedicated almost exclusively to children and young people. The results of this study can help policy makers, practitioners, funding agencies and other relevant stakeholders to improve Mozambican CMCs and leverage their community empowerment potential.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.

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