Attachment to Mobile Phones across Social Contexts

Attachment to Mobile Phones across Social Contexts

Burçe Çelik (Bahçeşehir University, Turkey) and Fırat Erdoğmuş (Bahçeşehir University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch019


This article presents a critical literature review of the major works on mobile phone culture, which examine the whys and wherefores of this technology's popularity in different socio-economic and cultural landscapes. Thus, it focuses particularly on how these multiplicities and varieties have been discussed, analyzed and researched in the existing mobile phone literature. There are different lines of research which can be categorized as following: the major works (mostly empirical studies whose findings are based on fieldwork) that demonstrate the mobile phone's use and instrumental value for people who are physically mobile and need instantaneous and spontaneous connections with others; the works that focus on the social promise of the mobile phone such as providing a means of social acceptance, through implying social status and particular lifestyles to polish one's face and gain recognition in social relations; and finally the studies that emphasize the sensing, affecting and affected, and fantasies of the body and the collective in contemplating the bond between body and mobile phone.
Chapter Preview


Many studies have shown that the mobile is popular worldwide, and that users in different socio-technical contexts have similar sort of attachments to this technology in spite of the varieties in the domain of use and meanings of mobile phone across different social contexts. The individual and collective forms of attachment to this technology have been defined in different terms, such as obsession of carrying the mobile everywhere (Wikle, 2001), as heavy dependence on the use of mobiles on a daily basis for social relations and self-presentation (Licoppe & Heurtin, 2001; Fortunati, 2003) or as addiction where the lack of mobile phone communication may leave the user depressive, lonely, and isolated (Park, 2005; Vincent, 2006). Although the collective attachment to this communication and media technology is a worldwide phenomenon, studies have shown that mobile phone was adopted more quickly and passionately by marginalized individuals, groups and countries (Schwartz, 1996; Agar, 2003; Katz & Aakhus, 2002). Not only has this technology moved throughout the world, but it has also spread more quickly to places whose relations to globality are characterized by economic, political, and cultural asymmetries. Recent ethnographic research has revealed how different collectives find their own use for mobile phone (Donner, 2005; Horst & Miller, 2005). As a global technology, the mobile phone has different meanings, tasks, performances, and uses and it produces different practices in different parts of the world. These empirical studies all indicate that mobile phone technology is highly flexible, that it can be used for a variety of purposes which change across social contexts (Plant, 2000; Chesher, 2007). Sadie Plant (2000), whose study investigates mobile telephony on a global scale suggests that this device is capable of satisfying diverse aims and can be used in a variety of cultural and social contexts. The mobile phone traverses localities, and differs depending on where it is used, produced and domesticated. When we speak of the mobile phone as an invention, we speak of a particular technological device that enables both personal and mass communication between bodies that are mobile and distant from each other, but as a social practice we speak of multiplicities, varieties and differences. The distinctive characteristics of mobile phone technology was initially defined as “pedestrian, portable and personal” (Ito, Okabe, & Matsuda, 2006) communication technology that enabled point-to-point and mass communication. Yet as many features have incorporated into its machinery, mobile phones have become truly mobile media whose values, domains of use and the meanings attributed to it have been diversified even more extensively (Arceneaux & Kavoori, 2012; May & Hearn 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Affectivity: Relating to, arising from, or influencing feelings or emotions.

Interactivity: Responding to and modified in accordance with inputs generated through a user’s actions or commands.

Expressive Value: Expressive value can be understood as every dimension (in the realm of ideas) which, in its broadest sense, enlarges cultural meaning and understanding.

Containing Technologies: Technologies that include a space for users to input and store personal information, thereby customize their machines. Containing technologies are conceptualized by Lewis Mumford and Zoe Sofia (by following Mumford) to discuss the female aspect of technologies that contain and give birth to the new outcomes.

Connectivity: The state of and / or capacity for establishing links and creating relationships.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: