Exploring the relationship between information and communication technology collective behaviors and sense of community: an urban refugee analysis

Richard Canevez, Carleen Maitland, Ying Xu, Sydney Andrea Hannah, Raphael Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Helping others use information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as mobile phones, can be beneficial for individuals and communities. In urban refugee communities, displaced and living far from home, collective behaviors with mobile phones can generate a sense of belonging. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential for these offline behaviors to generate a sense of community among urban refugees. Design/methodology/approach: Using quantitative evidence, the authors examined the relationship between collective behaviors, such as sharing or helping with a mobile phone, and sense of community. The authors analyzed survey data collected from urban refugees in Rwanda via multiple regression to test hypotheses related to the impact of collective behaviors on sense of community, as well as the mediating role of ICT self-efficacy and gender. Findings: The findings suggest that collective behaviors with mobile phones have a positive relationship with sense of community, driven primarily by providing assistance as compared to sharing. ICT self-efficacy was positively related to sense of community. However, collective behaviors' impacts differed by gender, suggesting that social dynamics influence this relationship. Originality/value: While the extant literature highlights the various roles of mobile phones in refugees' lives, less is known about the social aspects of use and its potential to help overcome isolation by fostering a sense of community. The authors extend this literature to a novel context (urban refugees in the Global South), testing a model that incorporates other factors that may play a role (e.g. self-efficacy and gender). These findings are valuable to urban refugees, due to difficulties in re-building a sense of community and increased ICT access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInformation Technology and People
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences

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