Collective Behaviors in Mobile Internet Access: An Exchange-Based Approach

Carleen Maitland


Collective behaviors such as sharing a mobile phone or receiving assistance with a social media account play a significant role in information and communication technology (ICT) access and use, particularly in low-resource environments. Yet to date, few studies provide quantitative comparisons of these behaviors. We establish common ground for such a comparison by viewing collective behaviors as exchanges, using a framework combining social exchange and transaction cost theories. Our research compares sharing and assistance primarily through secondary analyses of survey data collected from Syrian refugees in Jordan. Our results demonstrate the role of both relational dimensions and asset characteristics in explaining collective behaviors. Importantly, we provide quantitative evidence of differences in the effects of sharing and in assistance for men and women. Further, our findings suggest collective behaviors are important for extending women’s access and use. We conclude that the exchange perspective provides a helpful framework for deepening our understanding of collective behaviors.


collective behavior, exchange theory, asset specificity, mobile phone sharing, assistance, Middle East, gender

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