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Information communication technology (ICT) is an increasingly common form of political communication in the developing world. Adoption of ICT for contacting public officials at both the individual and community level varies considerably, however, and adoption rates are often much lower than expected. What explains why some individuals and communities are more likely to adopt ICT for political communication than others? In this paper, we investigate this question by conducting a network mapping exercise in 16 Ugandan villages in which a new ICT platform — U-Bridge — was rolled out in 2014. Half of the villages exhibited high uptake and half exhibited low uptake. We find that networks play an important role in explaining uptake at the individual and village level. At the individual level, one’s network position in the village matters. Individuals that have many connections and that are connected to many adopters are more likely to adopt. At the village level, villages where networks have more highly connected members (higher average degree) tend to display wider uptake, because individuals are more likely to be exposed to potential adopters. We further discuss the policy implications of these findings.
Bio: Guy Grossman is an Assistant Professor at the Political Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests fall under the broad category of political economy of development, with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and Israel-Palestine. In his work, he uses a host of causal inference tools as well as text and social network analysis to address substantive questions regarding political behavior, economic development, and conflict processes. His work has been published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, International organization, British Journal of Political Science, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Before coming to UPenn, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University and a Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Development Strategies at Columbia University.