The purpose of this paper is to profile everyday management and business strategies of 30 cyber cafés in Mumbai and contextualize them in the broader and pervasive culture of non‐formal economy.
The paper conducts an ethnographic study of open‐ended interviews of cyber café owner/managers to understand everyday patterns of managing a cyber café. The field observations and literature review aid an understanding of non‐formal economy in Mumbai.
The paper finds three important insights: business with internet technologies, even at the level of a small café, is expensive, requiring reasonable computing skills to maintain or expand business potential; in order to survive expense management several unauthorized practices are routinised and merge with the broader structures of non‐formal economy; and the non‐formality of business practices influence an open, liberal atmosphere to browse the internet and turn in a predominantly youth clientele.
With regulatory discourse on information and communication technologies (ICTs) centered on piracy and ill‐legality, informality of business practices in emerging economies provide an alternate premise to understand its nature and function. These challenge received notions of visualizing ICT as simply piracy and coming to terms with markets shaped and structured by non‐formal processes.
The study is one of the first on cyber cafés in Mumbai using the framework of non‐formal economy to analyse data. This paper presents the connections between a small ICT‐enabled business and the pervasive culture of non‐formal business relations in Mumbai. It also reports on the everyday organizational practices and client usages of internet cafés in India.
Rangaswamy, N. (2009), "The non‐formal business of cyber cafés: a case‐study from India", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 7 No. 2/3, pp. 136-145. https://doi.org/10.1108/14779960910955855Download as .RIS
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