Teleworking the Mobile Caribbean: Emerging Patterns of Broadband-Assisted Remote Work Among the Marginalized in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago
The 21st century is characterized by the rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their assimilation into all aspects of the global political economy. The Caribbean is characterized by a heavy infusion of mobile telephony in the day-to-day lives of its people. Proficiency in the use of such ICT tools is of real value in this emerging information economy, and many governments have pursued the policy of enhancing their peoples’ ICT capacities and capabilities as a means of attaining economic growth under difficult global circumstances. This article argues that more wide-scale and selective adoption of these technologies could help make the Caribbean region more competitive and enhance the lives of the poor and marginalized. One means of creatively utilizing these technologies is through telework, a concept extensively discussed in the paper as an emerging and relevant work arrangement. The implementation of telework through the use of mobile broadband is seen as an opportunity to exploit the advantages of a Caribbean workforce with virtually universal access to mobile telephony. The paper is grounded in the experiences of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago with the widespread use of mobile telephony. It argues for greater policy action and more policy-relevant research into how the cellular phone can be used as a bridging technology to encourage more advanced usage of broadband applications by marginalized groups in a wide range of work-related activities.
global political economy; ICTs; Caribbean; telework; mobile broadband; mobile telephony; Jamaica; Trinidad; Tobago