M-PESA: A socio-economic assemblage in rural Kenya

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Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network


The role of information communication technologies in development is contested between those who view it as facilitating broad based human development (Waverman et al., 2005; Jack, Suri and Townsend 2010) and those that view it as counterproductive (Donner 2008, Castel et al 2007). Mobile telephony, in particular, is seen as the most techno-social transformation to occur. For instance, at a macro level, Waverman et al. (2005) note that ‘mobile telephony has a positive and significant impact on economic growth and this impact may be twice as large in developing countries’. Kenya’s M-PESA is a case in point. This paper looks at M-PESA as a site of inclusion and exclusion, focusing on two elements: emerging accounts of M-PESA usage, and security on money transfers. The paper presents M-PESA as a social assemblage by adopting DeLanda’s (2006) assemblage theory, which opens up macro and micro dichotomies. Data obtained from ethnographic interviews shows that although M-PESA is meeting some needs, it also has deterministic tendencies, such as power and gender hierarchy distributions, though complex in nature. The paper has studied mobile money as a socio-economic assemblage that shows the dynamics of social change not as given, but as constantly forming and reforming.


Journal Article


Assemblage, Development, M-PESA, Security concerns


Komen, L. J. (2016). M-PESA: A socio-economic assemblage in rural Kenya. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, 9(5). https://ojs.meccsa.org.uk/index.php/netknow/article/view/458/280