Motivations for Social Media Use and Consumption in Zambian Online Platforms

Motivations for Social Media Use and Consumption in Zambian Online Platforms

Gregory Gondwe (University of Colorado at Boulder, USA), Roberta Muchangwe (University of Zambia, Zambia) and Japhet Edward Mwaya (St. Augustine University of Tanzania, Tanzania)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4718-2.ch011
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Although considerable literature has grown around the motivations for social media use and consumption across Africa, there is still a dearth of research on trends of consumption across different cultures and particular demographic environments. Studies that have attempted to explore this field tend to focus on how social media and the internet as a whole have remedied individuals in different ways. Particularly, how social media usage has enhanced participatory governance economically improved people's lives. This chapter offers a rather nuanced synthesis and perception of social media usage and consumption in Zambia that underscores the motivating factors. Two major interpretations are identified: social media consumption that focuses only on the quantity of proliferated online content and social media usage that interrogates the various ways people in Zambia use social media to suit their tastes and needs. The two approaches underscore the debate in this chapter and highlight how most studies have downplayed the distinction between the two.
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Framing The Question

Debates about social media engagement and participation that have emerged in the wake of proliferated advanced technological tools in much of sub-Sahara Africa often take a Manichean prism. A schism exists between those that perceive social media as skewing the behaviors of people that actively participate online (Kubheka, 2017; Ephraim, 2013; Burton & Mutongwizo, 2009) versus those that see it as a panacea to a number of things, including participatory democracy (Bosch, 2017; Wamuyu, 2017; Nyamnjoh, 2015; Chatora, 2012). Such a prism extends to the current debates on ‘fake news’ and the questions of whether social media could be blamed for such (Wasserman & Madrid-Morales, 2019) – therefore, alleging that platform owners I indulge in practices that tend to exacerbate homophily and polarizations across political and tribal affiliations. Against such a backdrop is the question of the kind of content published and whether people do actually believe and consume it whenever it comes to their disposal. For example, in an experimental study involving Zambia and Tanzania’s social media platforms, Gondwe (2018) observed that people in these two countries were skeptical about most stories from social media, and that their participation in the consumption of online content did not entail believability and trustworthiness.

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