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Technology and collective action: the effect of cell phone coverage on political violence in Africa

[journal article]

Pierskalla, Jan H.; Hollenbach, Florian M.

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Abstract The spread of cell phone technology across Africa has transforming effects on the economic and political sphere of the continent. In this paper, we investigate the impact of cell phone technology on violent collective action. We contend that the availability of cell phones as a communication technology allows political groups to overcome collective action problems more easily and improve in-group cooperation, and coordination. Utilizing novel, spatially disaggregated data on cell phone coverage and the location of organized violent events in Africa, we are able to show that the availability of cell phone coverage significantly and substantially increases the probability of violent conflict. Our findings hold across numerous different model specifications and robustness checks, including cross-sectional models, instrumental variable techniques, and panel data methods
Keywords Africa; telecommunication; new technology; communication medium; cell phone; utilization; impact; conflict; network; collective behavior; political movement; protest; political violence; political participation
Classification Technology Assessment; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
Page/Pages p. 207-224
Journal American Political Science Review, 107 (2013) 2
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0003055413000075
ISSN 1537-5943
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.