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Technology and Collective Action: The Effect of Cell Phone Coverage on Political Violence in Africa

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      Abstract

      The spread of cell phone technology across Africa has transforming effects on the economic and political sphere of the continent. In this paper, we investigate the impact of cell phone technology on violent collective action. We contend that the availability of cell phones as a communication technology allows political groups to overcome collective action problems more easily and improve in-group cooperation, and coordination. Utilizing novel, spatially disaggregated data on cell phone coverage and the location of organized violent events in Africa, we are able to show that the availability of cell phone coverage significantly and substantially increases the probability of violent conflict. Our findings hold across numerous different model specifications and robustness checks, including cross-sectional models, instrumental variable techniques, and panel data methods.

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            applab
            American Political Science Review
            Am Polit Sci Rev
            Cambridge University Press (CUP)
            0003-0554
            1537-5943
            May 2013
            March 2013
            : 107
            : 02
            : 207-224
            10.1017/S0003055413000075
            © 2013

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