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User Agency in the Middle Range: Rumors and the Reinvention of the Internet in Accra, Ghana

Jenna Burrell
Science, Technology, & Human Values
Vol. 36, No. 2 (March 2011), pp. 139-159
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41149046
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
User Agency in the Middle Range: Rumors and the Reinvention of the Internet in Accra, Ghana
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Abstract

This article is an analysis of rumors about Internet scamming told by Internet cafe users in the West African capital city of Accra, Ghana. Rumors provided accounts of how the Internet can be effectively operated by young Ghanaians to realize "big gains" through foreign connections. Yet these accounts were contradicted by the less promising direct experiences users had at the computer interface. Rumors amplified evidence of wildly successful as well as especially harmful encounters with the Internet. Rather than simply transferring information, through the telling of rumors, Internet users reclaimed a social stability that was disrupted by the presence of the Internet. These stories cast young Ghanaian Internet users as both good and effective in relation to the Internet. The study of accounts as they relate to the activities accounted for is an established area of interest in social theory. By considering how rumors function as accounts and how such interpretations of the technology are propagated among users, this analysis contributes to a broader understanding of user agency.

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